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US Drug Policy Impact on Minorities

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Ohemaa Peprah-Asante
Kimberly Johnson

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Tampa

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Kimberly Johnson

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Background: Race has a significant impact on the way that justice systems treat offenders. From laws that target minorities to unequal enforcement, and unequal sentencing, law enforcement policy and practice regarding drug use are especially egregious. Methods: A literature review was conducted with the aim of investigating different effects of US drug policy on white offenders in comparison to other racial minorities, especially black populations. To investigate drug policy and its effect on the incarceration rate according to race in America, I searched the following academic databases: PubMed, PsycINFO, JSTOR, Sage Pub, and ResearchGate. I also searched the Internet for peer-reviewed scientific studies presenting original data to May 5th, 2021. The primary outcome of interest was the differing effects that the US drug policy has on different races. Secondary outcome of interest was avenues to reduce racism through drug policy. Results: The 19 studies determined to be relevant provided evidence of significant racial bias in drug policy and law enforcement practice. From laws that target minorities, like the differential sentencing requirements for powder and crack cocaine, to law enforcement programs that deliberately target black populations through over-policing in minority neighborhoods and over-incarcerating minority offenders compared to whites, the system is biased. Conclusion: By understanding the various ways that US drug policy is organized to benefit white people and harms people of color, solutions can be introduced to the public and/or the government to change policy and practice that places more importance on equity.

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US Drug Policy Impact on Minorities

Background: Race has a significant impact on the way that justice systems treat offenders. From laws that target minorities to unequal enforcement, and unequal sentencing, law enforcement policy and practice regarding drug use are especially egregious. Methods: A literature review was conducted with the aim of investigating different effects of US drug policy on white offenders in comparison to other racial minorities, especially black populations. To investigate drug policy and its effect on the incarceration rate according to race in America, I searched the following academic databases: PubMed, PsycINFO, JSTOR, Sage Pub, and ResearchGate. I also searched the Internet for peer-reviewed scientific studies presenting original data to May 5th, 2021. The primary outcome of interest was the differing effects that the US drug policy has on different races. Secondary outcome of interest was avenues to reduce racism through drug policy. Results: The 19 studies determined to be relevant provided evidence of significant racial bias in drug policy and law enforcement practice. From laws that target minorities, like the differential sentencing requirements for powder and crack cocaine, to law enforcement programs that deliberately target black populations through over-policing in minority neighborhoods and over-incarcerating minority offenders compared to whites, the system is biased. Conclusion: By understanding the various ways that US drug policy is organized to benefit white people and harms people of color, solutions can be introduced to the public and/or the government to change policy and practice that places more importance on equity.