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600 Churches want an end to the war on drugs, calling it “the most dysfunctional social policy since slavery”
The New England Conference of the United Methodist Church, representing 600 churches, is calling for an end to the country’s war on drugs, calling it “the single most devastating, dysfunctional social policy since slavery.”
The Methodists voted to support efforts to end the decades-old war on drugs through “means other than prohibition.” In other words, they want drugs legalized and addicts treated as patients, not criminals.
But the Methodists aren’t alone. They’re actually joining a burgeoning religious and secular movement across the country calling for alternatives to the heavy-handed law-enforcement approach, which they say affects a disproportionate number of minorities – particularly black and Latino.
For example, The Unitarian Universal Association, representing over 1,000 congregations, has come out against the so-called war on drugs. And in Illinois, a marijuana decriminalization bill is being pushed by Clergy for a New Drug Policy (CNDP), a coalition of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Unitarian Universalist churches.
The Methodists’ resolution was voted in during a regional conference this past summer, and they’re hoping it will be adopted at the national level. The church says the war on drugs unintentionally leaves countless dead, destroys countless families, causes courts and prisons to be utterly overwhelmed, and cost taxpayers billions — all with little or nothing to show for it in terms of reducing the epidemic of addiction.
New approaches, they say, must include the legalization of some or all illicit drugs to deal effectively with substance abuse and to prevent the wrecking of whole families – most of them black or Latino – usually over the actions of a single family member.
“To people of color, the ‘war on drugs’ has arguably been the single most devastating, dysfunctional social policy since slavery,” the Methodist resolution said.
Powerful argument uses statistics
The Clergy for a New Drug Policy’s aims are clearly stated on its website:
“As voices of faith, we call for an end to the War on Drugs which the United States has waged, at home and abroad, for over 40 years. This War has failed to achieve its stated objectives; deepened divisions between rich and poor, black, white, and brown; squandered over one trillion dollars; and turned our country into a ‘prisoner’ nation.”
The group points out that more than 2.3 million people are now incarcerated in US prisons, more than any other nation on the planet including Russia, South Africa and even China, which has a population almost 4 times greater than ours. A huge percentage of American prisoners are jailed because of drug laws that punish non-violent drug crime – prisoners who many people believe would be better served through drug detox and rehab.
The group quotes theologian Richard Snyder, who says the U.S. to an alarming degree manifests as a “culture of punishment.”
The group goes on to say that the “weapons of punishment include a federal budget of over $215 billion for prisons, police and courts; mandatory minimum sentencing; seizures of property by law enforcement without due process; indiscriminate, and highly discriminatory, police sweeps as attempts to tamp down entire neighborhoods; and the privatizing of prisons. The ideology of this War is now embedded in our institutions of law enforcement and abetted by politicians who fear being labeled soft on crime.
“The War on Drugs when it was conceived in 1971 sought to conflate race and crime in the public mind for political purposes. This has worked. Even though drug use is roughly equivalent across ethnic groups, the vast proportion of those in jail are people of color. In 2006, one in every 15 black men was behind bars and one in every 34 Latino men, compared to one in 104 white men. As a result, young black men in most states are more likely to go to prison than college.”
“It’s a justice issue,” said Eric Dupee, the pastor of Crawford Memorial United Methodist Church in Winchester, Mass., who wrote the Methodists’ resolution. “Basically what I wanted to do is put forth the idea that our drug war is creating more harm, more problems than it’s solving, and I wanted people to be aware of that.”
Here at Novus, we’re not taking a stance on this issue, but we continue to play an essential part in the battle against addiction by helping individuals get their lives back through our cutting-edge medical detox protocols. Don’t hesitate to call us and get your questions answered about drug and alcohol detox. We’re here to help.
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