The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) passed a resolution Tuesday calling for an end to the “War on Drugs” during their 102th NAACP Annual Convention in Los Angeles, CA.
“Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement,” said NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous. “These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America.”
The resolution, titled “A Call to End the War on Drugs, Allocate Funding to Investigate Substance Abuse Treatment, Education, and Opportunities in Communities of Color for A Better Tomorrow” highlighted the fact that the United States spends $40 billion each year fighting the drug war and that African-Americans are 13 times more likely to end up in jail for drug-related crimes than their white counterparts.
“Studies show that all racial groups abuse drugs at similar rates, but the numbers also show that African Americans, Hispanics and other people of color are stopped, searched, arrested, charged, convicted, and sent to prison for drug-related charges at a much higher rate,” said Alice Huffman, president of the California State Conference of the NAACP. “This dual system of drug law enforcement that serves to keep African-Americans and other minorities under lock and key and in prison must be exposed and eradicated.”
The NAACP is now calling for drug treatment rather than jail time for offenders.
“We know that the war on drugs has been a complete failure because in the forty years that we’ve been waging this war, drug use and abuse has not gone down,” Robert Rooks, director of the NAACP Criminal Justice Program, said. “The only thing we’ve accomplished is becoming the world’s largest incarcerator, sending people with mental health and addiction issues to prison, and creating a system of racial disparities that rivals Jim Crow policies of the 1960’s.”
Once the NAACP board of directors ratifies the resolution in October, the NAACP and its chapters will mobilize to begin campaigning and fighting against the “War on Drugs.”