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Drug Restriction in the US enables legal slavery

Atualizado: 20 de fev. de 2023

How the free individual is enslaved through incarceration caused by overaggressive drug restriction

Drug restriction laws in the US allow for slavery to be legally continued. For the past few decades, many have backed the “war on drugs” as some sort of token of morality, unaware of the truth behind the phenomenon or of all the profound consequences it has, or how it even funds slavery.

The verdict of 12 years of incarceration for the “Man Sentenced to Federal Prison For Possession of Nearly One-Half Pound of Meth” in Deloit, Iowa is just another example in the vast history of incarceration pertaining to drug possession (1). Yet, since the 1970’s, curiously, the beginning of “The War on Drugs”, the incarceration rate, which had hitherto been stable, soared from 100 per 100,000 to over 500 per 100,000, and the prison population from about 300,000 to 1.6 million inmates (2). Many wonder what causes underlie this phenomenon, but most who consider all relevant factors have reached a conclusion: the privatization of prisons and drug restriction (3). These two influence and feed off each other: the over-incarceration of dissidents for often petty amounts of substance caused the need for penitentiary accommodation, which was solved through private initiative and then accommodations were made for that initiative through legislation that combated drug circulation and penalized possession, feeding the industry (4).

But even though most would reasonably conclude such a state of affairs is so to benefit prison owners, and thus the economy, there are more ramifications kept out of the public eye. Many are not cognizant of the labor industry within the prison complex itself. Typically, prisoners who work in federal prisons are paid between $0.12 and $0.40 per hour – this may merit the “legal slavery” denomination (5). Oftentimes, work is the only means for a prisoner to earn and acquire some of the few accommodations available to him, while incarcerated. While a free man enjoys the so hard-fought labor rights that grant him some security and reasonable compensation for his work, the prisoner not only is not free, but is even more of a victim to wage slavery than any other.

The current state of drug restriction, resulting in massive sentences for, often, insignificant amounts of substances, fueling the private prison industry and its slave labor force, is at variance with human rights such as liberty. While the laws pertaining to drug restriction are not loosened and penitentiaries remain in private possession, the freedom of man is in danger – changes must be made to the law and constitution.

1 The United States Department of Justice. “Man Sentenced to Federal Prison For Possession of Nearly One-Half Pound of Meth”. Justice. Last modified November 30, 2021.

2 Pfaff, John F. "The war on drugs and prison growth: limited importance, limited legislative options." Harv. J. on Legis. 52 (2015): 173.


4 Fulcher, Patrice A. "Hustle and flow: Prison privatization fueling the prison industrial complex." Washburn LJ 51 (2011): 589.

5 Sarah Shemkus. “Beyond cheap labor: can prison work programs benefit inmates?”. The Guardian. December 9, 2015. hsa-whole-foods-inmate-labor-incarceration

Por Tiago Correia

Editado por Matilde Freitas

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