Cruel and unequal, how our penal system mass produces second class citizens. People of all colors use and sell drugs at similar rates. Yet, African American adults are ten times more likely than whites to go to prison on drug charges. A look at the social effects of mass incarceration—by Michelle Alexander

It’s a social policy that, many experts agree, has failed miserably since it was introduced more than forty years ago, tearing apart families and gutting African American communities across the United States, consuming tens of thousands of lives abroad, and wasting huge sums of money. Yet hardly any national politician is willing to challenge it!

Barack Obama’s drug tsar has said that the U.S. war on drugs has not been successful and that “it’s very clear we can’t arrest our way out of this problem”.

But despite promises by the U.S. president to re-evaluate U.S. drug policies, more than half of Obama’s drug control budget continues to go towards law enforcement.

Drug arrests have swelled since the 1970’s, when Richard Nixon declared drug abuse “public enemy number one” and stated his intention of waging a “new, all-out offensive” against it, the government has spent an estimated trillion dollars on the war. Much of that money has gone to street-level drug arrests, undercover raids, and—most costly of all—prison beds.

If your Father is locked up there is a pretty good chance that you too will someday end up in the penal system, creating a cycle of absence that has been prevalent for two-generations within the African-American community.