Despite statements that he intends to decrease the budget deficit and focus less on certain drug crimes, President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget actually increases funding for anti-drug initiatives. The war on drugs goes on with seemingly no consideration for its spiraling costs and ineffectiveness in reducing the number of people using drugs. As further indication that the incredibly high cost to success ratio will not likely come down, the proportion of funds going to treatment and prevention versus funds going to law enforcement is not changing much. For every dollar spent on anti-drug initiatives, approximately 60 cents go to law enforcement while only about 40 cents go to prevention and treatment. This is very similar to the federal government strategies under President Bush and President Clinton.
The total amount budgeted for anti-drug programs is $26 billion. This amount is split over a variety of federal departments. For instance, the Department of Justice would get $7.85 billion with the Bureau of Prisons getting an 8% increase from the previous fiscal year.
Obviously several questions are raised by this budget. If we are giving large amounts of money to the same groups in the same proportions with no success year after year, do we think we will ultimately find success by allocating more taxpayer money this way? What might happen if we allocated more money for treatment and prevention as opposed to law enforcement and changed programs and policies accordingly? What do we accomplish by giving more and more taxpayer money to the Bureau of Prisons other than putting more people in jail for drug crimes?