Unequal under Law: Race in the War on Drugs

Paperback | October 1, 2007

byDoris Marie Provine

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Race is clearly a factor in government efforts to control dangerous drugs, but the precise ways that race affects drug laws remain difficult to pinpoint. Illuminating this elusive relationship, Unequal under Law lays out how decades of both manifest and latent racism helped shape a punitive U.S. drug policy whose onerous impact on racial minorities has been willfully ignored by Congress and the courts.

Doris Marie Provine’s engaging analysis traces the history of race in anti-drug efforts from the temperance movement of the early 1900s to the crack scare of the late twentieth century, showing how campaigns to criminalize drug use have always conjured images of feared minorities. Explaining how alarm over a threatening black drug trade fueled support in the 1980s for a mandatory minimum sentencing scheme of unprecedented severity, Provine contends that while our drug laws may no longer be racist by design, they remain racist in design. Moreover, their racial origins have long been ignored by every branch of government. This dangerous denial threatens our constitutional guarantee of equal protection of law and mutes a much-needed national discussion about institutionalized racism—a discussion that Unequal under Law promises to initiate.

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Race is clearly a factor in government efforts to control dangerous drugs, but the precise ways that race affects drug laws remain difficult to pinpoint. Illuminating this elusive relationship, Unequal under Law lays out how decades of both manifest and latent racism helped shape a punitive U.S. drug policy whose onerous impact on raci...

Doris Marie Provine is the director of the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University. She is the author of several books, including Judging Credentials and Case Selection in the United States Supreme Court, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:193 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:October 1, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226684628

ISBN - 13:9780226684628

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Table of Contents

Introduction

One                   Racial Discrimination in the Eyes of the Law
Two                  Race in America’s First War on Drugs
Three                 Negro Cocaine Fiends, Mexican Marijuana Smokers, and Chinese Opium Addicts: The Drug Menace in Racial Relief
Four                  Congress on Crack: How Race-Neutral Language Hides Racial Meaning
Five                   The Racial Impact of the War on Drugs: How Government Coped
Six                    Racial Justice: The Courts Consider Sentencing Disparities

Epilogue
Notes               
References        
Index