Jay Z recently narrated a short film discussing the war on drugs. The film specifically highlights the role it has played in the rise of drug-related incarcerations among African Americans in the United States.
The project was created to showcase the effect the war on drugs has had on African American communities across the country.
Watch Jay Z: ‘The War on Drugs Is an Epic Fail’
According to the film, the U.S. imprisons more people at one time than any other country in the world. Today, around 2 million people are incarcerated. Over the past several decades, strict drug laws have forced judges to give mandatory life sentences for even minor drug-related offenses. Almost half of drug-related arrests in 2014 were for possession of marijuana, despite its legalization in some areas across the country.
It isn’t just about marijuana and jail time, though. The four-minute film also questions the number of African Americans arrested for drug law violations (31 percent) compared to whites who use and sell drugs at the same rates. It opens up an important discussion about race and incarceration, but also asks why people addicted to drugs are given more compassion in today’s “health crisis” than drug dealers.
Dream Hampton, the producer of the film, hopes this short discussion will be able to influence people in the state of California to vote for a new kind of marijuana legalization initiative this November. The measure would relieve those in prison for low-level marijuana-related offenses from their sentences and wipe their records clean.
Jay Z’s narration calls the war on drugs an “epic fail,” recognizing that though the war on drugs began back in 1971, rates of drug use are as high now as they were then. This brings into question whether the problem rests on the drugs themselves, or the laws that determine the consequences for those who use and/or sell them.
An update to drug-related laws and policies, the film suggests, could bring about the kind of change the war on drugs possibly intended to promote in the first place.
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