Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) called Wednesday on the U.S. House floor for an end to the 40-year war on drugs, which Cohen said had spent trillions of dollars to incarcerate millions of people for non-violent crimes.
“Now don’t get the wrong impression; I’m not suggesting that drug abuse and drug addiction is not a great problem that we must deal with,” he said. “But our approach in treating it as a law enforcement and not as a health matter, a health care issue, has led to prison populations increasing, racial disparities of the greatest source in this nation in the arrest process, and a lost generation of people with no education and no job prospects because those arrests haunt them for the rest of their lives.”
Cohen introduced the Justice Integrity Act to the House in May. The legislation would create an advisory group to investigate racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.
“Marijuana use has not skyrocketed in the last year, but arrests are vamped up and they use arrest as a basis to get people, particularly people of color where it’s 7 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re African American and 4 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re Latino and more likely if you’re African American or Latino that you’ll spend a night in jail than if you’re Caucasian,” he noted.