50-year war on drugs imprisoned millions of Black Americans

(Photo: WNCN)

(AP) — Fifty years ago this summer, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs.

Today, with the U.S. mired in a deadly opioid epidemic that did not abate during the coronavirus pandemic’s worst days, it is questionable whether anyone won the war.

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Yet the loser is clear: Black and Latino Americans, their families and their communities.

A key weapon of the war was the imposition of mandatory minimums in prison sentencing.

Decades later those harsh penalties at the federal level and the accompanying changes at the state level led to an increase in the prison industrial complex that saw millions of people, primarily of color, locked up and shut out of the American dream.