How police make money jailing people in the war on drugs
Your cousin might have been locked up for smoking marijuana. So, might have your brother. Have you wondered why we have kept up a failed war on marijuana when even a majority of Americans now oppose it? Well, if you live in California, the reason might be one John Lovell. He is a lobbyist for police unions in the state of California.
One group who has given him a lot of money is the California Police Chiefs Association. See, a war on drugs requires more police. It requires more people to arrest and conduct investigations into the usage of drugs. It allows cops to get more overtime pay. Less money of course is spent on much more efficient but more effective drug rehab programs.
Federal grants help pay for the drug war in states that enforce it strongly. The fact is many people get very wealthy off of the war on drugs, and it is not just the drug cartels, who are also strong supporters of keeping this failed war going. It is people who make SWAT equipment, those who construct private prisons and those who get taxpayer grants to continue this crusade.
And of course, as I previously mentioned, police can do very well in the war on drugs. Indeed, in 2008 the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (prison guards) gave a cool million bucks to defeat an a referendum that would have directed some drug addicts to rehab other than prison.
That is not to say there aren't true believers among the police, but those cops who are anti-drug war are often very fearful (with good reason) to state their opposition to it. There is an organization called the Law Enforcement Association against Prohibition. They are largely made up of former cops, which is understandable, because they cant' be fired at that point.
Police provide a service. If we wish to continue the failed war on drugs, that is why they exist. But, they aren't a policy making body. They are an enforcement body. The problem becomes when they become strong and powerful enough to continue a policy based not on its' own merits, but their own personal interests. Of course, under asset forfeiture programs, police departments have taken the private property of citizens who weren't even charged with a crime.
Do you know who is a big supporter of the drug war, the beer and alcohol industries! Yes, they don't want the competition, they don't want marijuana potentially eating into their market share. Although marijuana has little, if any, societal cost next to alcohol. Also an opponent of ending the drug are prescription drug companies, because they find marijuana as potential competition, but cheaper.
So, these are some, though not all, of the dirty little secrets that the advocates for the drug war don't want you to hear. In fact, they hate when this kind of information comes out. They want to promote a myth that those who support the war do it for only idealistic reasons. Some do, but many don't. The drug war shouldn't be a tool for some to get wealthy, or even a jobs program.