The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office recently announced that they would be installing new security cameras around the city, and that they were planning on knocking on more than 18,000 doors, without warrants, as part of an initiative called “operation ceasefire.”
Sheriff John Rutherford, Councilwoman Denise Lee, and Mayor Alvin Brown, collectively made the announcement on the matter. The sheriff admitted that many aspects of the program were going to be funded with money that was taken from victims of the drug war using asset forfeiture laws.
“We’re going to use the drug money we pull out of this neighborhood to protect this neighborhood,” Rutherford said.
Aside from the funding being collected through means of asset forfeiture, the department is also asking for more than $3,000,000 in tax funding for new officers. The objective of the new initiative is to decrease violent crime, most of which is related to the drug trade.
For those familiar with the drug war failures, a consideration of legalization and decriminalization is a more sound suggestion than increasing police on the street. If authorities were truly interested and dedicated to the endeavor of decreasing the violent crime surrounding the drug war, then they would consider decriminalization seriously. Repeatedly, decriminalized drug policies have reduced crime drastically.
Mayor Brown said at the press conference that, “We must also be tough on the causes of crime. One of the best ways to stop crime is to prevent it.”
Escalation is the wrong response when prohibition is to blame for the violence in the first place.
“Prohibition creates violence because it drives the drug market underground. This means buyers and sellers cannot resolve their disputes with lawsuits, arbitration or advertising, so they resort to violence instead. Violence was common in the alcohol industry when it was banned during Prohibition, but not before or after. Violence is the norm in illicit gambling markets, but not in legal ones. Violence is routine when prostitution is banned but not when it’s permitted. Violence results from policies that create black markets, not from the characteristics of the good or activity in question. The only way to reduce violence, therefore, is to legalize drugs.” said Jeffrey A. Miron, a senior lecturer in economics at Harvard University.
Billions of dollars, countless lives, and many years have been funneled into the “War on Drugs.” The effort to get drugs off the street, or even out of prisons and schools, has failed miserably. The real effects of prohibition have influenced many to change their position, taking a more neutral stance toward decriminalization efforts. Some countries have even legalized marijuana, and stand behind their decision.
But many United States federal and state authorities, who’ve spent their career fighting (and profiting) from the war on drugs, are rather reluctant to end it. In states that this “war” has ended, violent crime rates have actually sunk. Outdated asset forfeiture laws continue to allow police departments to profit in the millions from the war on drugs, and acts as an incentive for departments to prioritize drug crime.