The war on drugs: big business

What could be considered as a public health issue is dealt with as a matter of legality and penal justice, moving multi-million dollar sums in the USA, with an investment of more than US$1 billion and more than 45 million arrests for drug-related crimes in the last 40 years. This attitude makes the USA the world’s largest jailer, with an incarceration rate per inhabitant higher than any other country in the world. The “war on drugs” led by the Government also extends beyond its borders to drug-producing countries. To do the “dirty work”, they hire private companies that employ mercenaries, who critical voices claim use tactics that fly under the radar of public and political control.

In the US the drug war business takes advantage of the most vulnerable; for many, drugs represent the only way to make money when they have no jobs or social welfare benefits. This vicious circle between the worlds of drugs and penal justice encloses questions of race and social class, with neoliberal capitalism at its base.

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