New Jersey Senator Cory Booker sat down with HuffPost Live earlier this week to discuss criminal justice reform in the United States. In the interview, Booker explained how the elevated cost of the American drug war has crippled the financial resources of most police agencies and, in turn, left them without the proper funds to combat serious crime.
By continuing to throw money at the drug war and to enforce mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders, Booker said the federal government has created an “anemic ATF,” which puts law enforcement in the poor house when it comes to chasing actual threats to society.
“We’re spending so much money funding other agencies prosecuting the drug war,” he told HuffPost’s Ryan Grim.
Booker went on to imply that the criminal justice system and the prison industry had created a monster that desperately needs to be put down… or at least tamed and refocused.
“You shouldn’t be letting this bureaucracy grow so big,” he said. “It’s chewing up taxpayer dollars, squeezing out money. Would you rather have a nonviolent drug offender with a bunch of marijuana cost us a million dollars for a high mandatory minimum… or would you rather be able to hire two more investigators to investigate insurance fraud? To investigate other white collar crimes that are costing society? Or to protect us against terrorism?”
This is where Grim chimed in to suggest that because the Drug Enforcement Administration has the resources to take on those criminals who pose a threat to the economy and safety of the nation, perhaps their duties should shift.
“Right now we have a Drug Enforcement Administration which is extraordinarily good at tracking money globally,” Grim said. “Have you ever thought about telling the DEA, ‘Look, we’re not going to put you out of business, we’re just going to put you somewhere else?'”
However, the drug war is not about to end anytime in the near future. Earlier this month, President Obama signed off on the Fiscal Year 2016 budget plan that allocated over $27 billion to fight the domestic war on drugs — $2 billion more than what was spent in 2014.