Legal Representation & Social Class and War on Drugs

Published Aug. 14, 2019, 11:59 a.m. by Moderator



  1. Legal representation and social class


a.       Geographic location


The quality of representation and the resources available to cover a public defense lawyer varies from state to state, and even from county to county within a state.  Colorado has a well-funded state Public Defender program, Alabama has no system at all, and the state appoints lawyers to handle cases with very meager compensation. California has a mixed system of contract lawyer and public defenders. For example San Jose, has a very good Public Defender office.


b.      Overburdened public defense system and wrongful conviction


A poor person accused of a crime will be granted a court appointed Public Defender or a contract lawyer;  the former might be handling up to three hundred cases and the latter’s incentive is money- making to spend the least time on each case in order to handle a higher volume of cases based on his/her low pay. In 24 counties in California, contract lawyers bid lowest get to act as counsel for their clients. Seventy percent of cases in California are settled on the first hearing.


c.       White-collar, corporate, and environmental legal defense disparity


They have a dedicated force of litigators who comprise the best defense lawyers, former prosecutors, numerous legal assistants, crime and scientific experts including the favor of government officials of high positions. The defense is top notch and boasts of more acquittals.


d. Wrongful conviction and the overburdened public defender system


Courts facing under-funded indigent defense systems should create a default rule raising the standard of proof in all criminal cases against indigent defendants, the prosecution should prove indigent defendants guilty under a higher “beyond all doubt” standard, and this would force the states to provide better legal aid to reach this constitutional threshold (Gershowitz, 2007).


. 2. The War on Drugs


a.            Opinion


The war on drugs has been a total failure, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 has not stopped the flow of drugs into the United States. It is estimated currently that more than 60% of the federal prison population consists of drug offenders, despite this, the drug supplies are up, violent crime is up. Students still have an access to drugs with,  in the Cato Handbook Policy claims “at least 82 percent of high school seniors from 1975 to 2003 said they found marijuana ‘‘fairly easy’’ or ‘‘very easy’’ to obtain.” Prohibition has caused more harm than good (Lynch


 


b. War on drug successes


The statistics show a significant shift in arrests: 37 million people have been arrested since the drug war begun in the United States in 1970, that is more arrests than for all violent crimes combined, about 400,000 drug offenders in jails and prisons, and more than 60 percent of the federal prison population consists of drug offenders (Lynch, 2004).


 


d.      Impact on African American males


In eleven cities, among blacks, arrests rose by more than 500% from 1980 to 2003. In the largest cities arrests rose by three times more compared to whites. In twenty-one cities, the black to white ratio of arrests more than doubled. In an analysis done by the Office of the Attorney General, New York City, of 175,000 encounters during a 15-month period concluded that African Americans and Hispanics were significantly more likely to be stopped by police (King, 2008).


e.      Impact on immigration policy


 


Increase in border patrol and federal agents, increased funding and provision of state of the art border patrol technology, increased aerial surveillance and fencing of 649 miles out of 652 miles already done, which include 299 miles of vehicle barriers (US Government, 2011).





f.        Conclusion


 


The war on drugs cannot be won with the current rigid legislation, the legislation is not enough, if the community does not feel part and parcel of the decision making process, the drug trade is due to a systemic failure in the creation of jobs. As long as unemployment and corruption exist, the war on drugs is more of a cosmetic measure than a treatment to the illness.


 


REFERENCES


Gershowitz, A. (2007). Raise the Proof: A Default Rule for Indigent Defense. Connecticut Law Review , 40, 89.


King, R. S. (2008, May). Disparity By Geography: The War on Drugs in America’s Cities. The Sentencing Project , 2, 4, 16.


Lynch, D. B. (2004). Cato Handbook on Policy: The War on Drugs. Washington DC: Cato Institute, 253, 254.


US Government . (2011). Building a 21st Century Immigration System. White House Press, White House. Washington DC: US Government.

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