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Kori HambricProfessor Leslie PaikSOC 2540018 December 2017The Crime Epidemic: Reforming the Drug Epidemic as a Healthcare IssueDrug decriminalization is defined as the removal of sanctions under the criminal law, with optional use of administrative sanctions. Drug legalization is defined as the complete removal of sanctions, making a certain behavior legal and applying no criminal or administrative penalty (Hughes 999). During the 1970s where there was a major crackdown in minority communities because of the war on drugs, mass incarceration has affected these communities by embedding fallacies within the minds of policy makers, disrupting the life course of individuals, and creating negative relationships between the police and urban communities. In the argument whether we should reform drug policies and decriminalize the sale and use of drugs, we must examine how the criminalization of individuals who need help with their drug addiction does not solve the problem of addiction, but creates and promotes a vicious cycle of drugs in the community that will never end.The fallacies that are embedded in policy makers’ minds about the war on drugs, and the people who use drugs is the fallacy of appeal to prejudice, meaning debaters use popular prejudices or passions to convince others of the correctness of their position (pg 18). As Michelle Alexander points out in The New Jim Crow, when Nixon was running for president, he used the southern strategy to recruit poor white Americans into the republican party, while simultaneously condemning the view of African-Americans in the public eye as predators. This view has been instantiated in European-American history since the early twentieth century in films like Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith where in the film, a young white woman committed suicide as opposed to being raped by a white man. This film is a mockery of African-Americans being stereotyped as lazy and unable to control their sexual tendencies towards women. Once the Regan administration replaced Nixon in office, he appealed to the “emotional distress of those who feared and resented the Negro” (Alexander 48), keeping these myths and images prevalent in our society.In examining the claim to reform the criminal justice system and making drugs a healthcare issue, we must first examine the grounds of the claim. Grounds are information and evidence about the troubling condition – typifying examples, statistics, etc. (Best 31). According to the article by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide, and 2.1 million of them are in the United States, which is roughly 10% of Americans.Next, we must assess the warrants of the issue. Warrants means to justify doing something about the troubling condition; they explain why something ought to be done (Best 36). One of the reasons why we should treat drugs as a healthcare issue instead of a crime issue is because jail disrupts the life course of individuals and makes it harder for them to assimilate back into society. In the reading (insert reading here), the author explains to us that the life course is a sequence of events in the transition from childhood to adulthood that affect the trajectory of the individual’s growth at each stage. In arriving to adulthood, the sequences are school, work, marriage, establishing a home, and lastly becoming a parent. Interrupting the life course at any of these sequences delays stable employment, and decreases the chance of having other positive life course outcomes (Pettiwestern 154). Prison delays the life course because the individual is on a “time-out” from society, and they are unable to start families, or work and provide for the ones they already have. Those who are incarcerated have harder times seeking employment and typically earn lower wages. Even if they are skilled in a certain field, they cannot work in their area of specialty because of their status as a felon. Similar to the 1970s where there was a technological revolution, and many unskilled workers lost their factory jobs, driving them down illegitimate paths of generating income such as selling crack-cocaine. If those who are incarcerated cannot provide for their families once they are out of prison, then they will continue to go down the same path, which they were on before, ending right back in jail and further disrupting their life course. This leads to broken households, and their offspring possibly going down the same path, which they went in because it is the only example they have seen. The stigma of this prison record affects American citizenship, specifically voting rights and the disenfranchisement laws. Felon disenfranchisement is when those who are convicted of a felony have their voting rights taken away from then. Currently, 6.1 million Americans are disenfranchised, and the African-Americans count for 7.4% of that population (Uggen 3). Disenfranchising citizens impacts reform for the society when dealing with issues such of public policy such as education, minimum wage, and poverty programs.In finalizing the claim to why we need to reform drugs as the new healthcare issue, we must come up with conclusions. Conclusions are statements that specify what should be done, and what action should be taken to address the social problem (Best 38). One way to address the issue is to increase funding for rehabilitation programs and reinstate mental state mental facilities instead of dumping people in prison for issues that are beyond their control. In 2001, Portugal was one of the first countries that decriminalized drugs for possession and personal use. The purpose of decriminalization efforts in Portugal was to discourage drug usage in the community, and encourage people to seek treatment for addiction. The article What Can We Learn from the Portuguese Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs, gives us an insight as to how decriminalization has been effective in their community. For dependent drug users, the government recommends the individual entering treatment or education programs, and for the person who is non-dependent, they can impose a fine, or they have to undergo a psychological or educational service (Hughes 1001).

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