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The Failing War on Drugs

At the Scharff Law Firm, our attorneys have had the opportunity for a first hand look at the ‘War on Drugs.’ For over 10 years, Reba and I have been both on the prosecuting side and defense side of the courtroom battles that people live through every day. Our jails are filled with people that have been convicted of a variety of drug crimes. The numbers are shocking. Since the declaration of the “War on Drugs” 40 years ago, our country has spent over a trillion dollars prosecuting drug cases. In 2009 U.S. taxpayers carried the burden of 51 billion dollars at the state and federal level to effectuate this so called war. Millions of people have been incarcerated for low-level drug law violations, resulting in drastic racial disparities in the prison system…but still – drug overdose, addiction and misuse are more prevalent than ever.

  • The war on drugs drives mass incarceration of Americans.
  • More than 1 of every 100 American adults is behind bars. In 1980, the total U.S. prison and jail population was about 500,000 – today, it is more than 2.3 million.
  • The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world – both per capita and in terms of total people behind bars. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it has almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.
  • The number of people behind bars for drug law violations rose from 50,000 in 1980 to more than a half of a million today – an 1100% increase.
  • Drug arrests have more than tripled in the last 25 years, totaling more than 1.63 million  arrests in 2010. More than four out of five of these arrests were for mere possession, and forty-six percent of these arrests (750,591) were for marijuana possession alone.
  • Arrests and incarceration for drugs – even for first time, low-level violations – can result in debilitating collateral consequences for an individual and their family. A conviction for a drug law violation can result in the loss of employment, property, public housing, food stamp eligibility, financial aid for college, and the right to vote – even after serving time behind bars.

The War on Drugs was lost decades ago. The Raleigh drug crimes attorneys at the Scharff Law Firm do everything they can to battle for our clients accused of drug crimes. We can’t single handedly change the system, but we can try to effectuate positive change for our clients, one case at a time. If you’ve been charged with any type of drug offense in North Carolina, call us for a free consultation. We want to fight for you!