We Should Still Defund the Police Reading Response
Reading response memos: 30% of your grade. You will be required to submit 5x 0.5-1 single-spaced page memos in the ‘Reading response’ assignments in the Content section of Canvas. They will be worth 6 points and graded pass/fail. You must submit your memos the night before any five classes of your choosing, and each memo must engage one of the starred readings for that class (along with other readings if you wish). All memos must summarize at least one reading from a scholarly book or journal—suitable readings are marked with an asterisk (*)—and present a question for further discussion.- .5 to a full page single spaced, with a question
– at the end summarizes the different parts of the reading, broken up into paragraphs, and ends with a question for further discussion that is not addressed in the reading. A clarifying question (what did the author mean by x?) could also work here
– the article you will be working on is https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/defu…
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here is an example– please follow example, he is a hard grader, ask a good compelling question at the end
Reading Response 1: “The War on Drugs” by Alex Vitale
The War on Drugs is regarded by many as one of the most harmful and inefficient forms of policing today. Drug criminalization is closely tied to conservative nativist politics: it lies in a long history of anti-Black cocaine movements, anti-Mexican marijuana movements, and anti-Chinese opium movements. The War on Drugs was launched by President Nixon, who sought to embed the federal government more closely with law enforcement and used law and order rhetoric to appeal to white America and communicate his intention of controlling the Black community using police. Reagan and Clinton expanded his efforts, contributing to increased military involvement in drug- related law enforcement, widening the scope of the War on Drugs to include other federal and law enforcement agencies, increasing death penalty offenses and 3 strikes laws, providing more funding for law enforcement agencies (including police and prisons), and overseeing spiked drug incarceration for possession rather than distributing offenses.
The War on Drugs has involved a long track record of law enforcement corruption, racial implications, fourth amendment constraints, devastating health effects, and international effects. Due to forfeiture laws, law enforcement is incentivized to perform ongoing ‘fishing expeditions’ in hopes of finding valuable property to expropriate. Unequal and highly racialized War on Drugs enforcement endures regardless of countless reforms, contributing to the mass incarceration phenomenon. Courts have allowed increased searches due to the widespread sentiment that “no penalty is too harsh and no method too extreme” if it gets another dealer off the streets. Criminalization has created a dangerous environment where individuals are isolated and cannot seek help. The War on Drugs has also contributed to international treaties that criminalize drugs, prompted the deportation of individuals arrested on drug convictions, and subsequently exacerbated migration to the US.
There is a growing awareness that we “cannot incarcerate our way out of problems associated with drug use” (Vitale). One of the most prominent reforms in previous years has been the institution of Drug Courts. However, 70% of individuals prosecuted through Drug Courts do not complete their programs, and can spend years cycling between prison and treatment centers. Drug Courts epitomize the counterproductive meshing of therapeutic and punitive measures, producing relapse and incarceration rates worse than those observed in the criminal justice system, while also being costlier.
Vitale argues that the solution to drug-related problems in society today is the institution of a more robust public-health and harm-reduction response system. Specifically, we might look to (1) harm reduction, (2) legalization, and (3) economic development within affected communities as viable alternatives to the War on Drug’s punitive measures.
A harm reduction approach may be instrumental in combatting many drug-related social problems. Providing needle exchange services would lessen the transmission of diseases such as HIV. Instituting supervised injection sites would allow users to have access to immediate medical treatment if needed, and prevent fatalities. On-demand drug treatment would allow patients to have access to treatment without lengthy wait times. Engaging in new public education and health messaging that strays away from the punitive and moralizing framework would also help de- marginalize users and reel them back in from the claws of our broken criminal justice system.
Legalization and economic development might also present viable alternatives to the War on Drugs. Legalization would eliminate dangerous black markets, provide tax money to support communities, and provide safer (unaltered) drugs to users. Economic development strategies would help improve economic conditions in poor/non-white/rural communities so they are not dependent on black market labor.
Question: Would the funds generated from the dismantling of the War on Drugs and drug taxes suffice to cover the costs of harm reduction, legalization, and the implementation of economic development strategies?