Fourteen days in 2016, and already twenty-three people have been killed by US police. That’s almost two a day, every day. Since the 14th of December, police in America have killed sixty citizens; that equates to sixty in less than a month. When we compare those numbers to that of other first world countries, a worrying trend emerges, of which people – including some law enforcement officers – are only recently grasping the enormity.
On average, British police are responsible for the deaths of approximately two citizens per year. American cops are responsible for more than that every day. Of course, some of those killed were not innocent, but many were innocent, and also unarmed. Many were shot while running away, and many of these deaths were recorded on video. But innocent or not, each of these people deserved due process, leading people protesting police brutality and lamenting the “stolen lives” of the victims.
It has been suggested that since the US has a much larger population that the UK, it is inevitable that the death toll will be higher. To expose this farce, we can compare the US with communist China. Law enforcement in American killed 92 times more citizens than China did in the same time period, and China’s population is more than quadruple the size of America’s. It seems inconceivable.
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However, if we examine the prison population of the US, the data does begin to explain – if not justify – the large number of people killed by police. In order for the US prison system to remain profitable, a ninety-five percent or higher occupancy rate is required. This arrangement has actually led to a situation where there is a need for people to commit crimes, and the implications associated with demanding people commit crimes are horrifying — and deadly.
American contains about five percent of the world’s population, but twenty-five percent of the world’s inmates – 2.3 million people, the majority of which have been incarcerated for drug offences. Locking up drug users and dealers is a reasonably profitable venture for the US since drug crimes are easier to prosecute.
It’s a far simpler process to search a teenager who may have an illegal substance in his pocket than to examine all the evidence involved with a rape or murder charge. The best, easiest and quickest way to lock up more people is the war on drugs.
And during this process – the police’s ruthless hunt of people in the possession of drugs – does nothing to curtail drug use, but everything to boost the prison population. Law enforcement is doing everything they can to keep this cycle going, which starts to explain the huge numbers of people that die at the hands of the police. It seems that there is little doubt the ending the war on drugs would lower police brutality.
On the upside, even law enforcement personnel are figuring this out; a record number of policemen have quit their jobs in a push to end the drug war. Some have joined the growing ranks of an important advocacy group — Law Enforcement Against Prohibition—“who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of America’s current drug policies.”