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War on Drugs Makes Women the Enemy

If you've been following the story of Cleveland's alleged serial killer Anthony Sowell, you know it's horrific. Eleven female bodies have been found in and around the man's home, leaving the public wondering how could these crimes go on undetected for years. Writing in the Daily Beast, Cleveland journalist Mansfield Frazier says he knows why: Sowell was able to kill drug-addicted women without anyone noticing because the war on drugs targets women. Let's examine the evidence he uses to support this allegation after the jump.

Frazier argues that if the criminal justice system focused more on treating drug-addicted women, instead of making showy but relatively insignificant drug busts, these women might be alive today. He says: "According to the news reports, all of the dead women had, at one time or another, interacted with the criminal justice system as a result of their addictions, but none were successfully treated." He reasons that because the system met these women with punishment instead of treatment, they continued to be addicted, became vulnerable to Sowell, and disappeared without anyone noticing.

While I'm sure there's a lot of blame to be passed around (for example, why didn't the authorities checking in on Sowell, a registered sex offender, investigate the suspicious smell coming from his home?), Frazier makes a good point about how the war on drugs prevented these women from kicking their addictions. Do you agree that the war on drugs is partially to blame for these murders?

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tarynitup tarynitup 7 years
I think his argument is not well developed. Or maybe it's not well summarized here on Tres. Every addict I've known experienced some kind of abuse prior to their addiction. Maybe Mr. Frazier's point would have been more accurate if he talked about how access to recovery resources for victims of abuse is limited and that abuse of women is not taken seriously. Abuse seems to be a gateway to drug addiction. Before women are tangled in the lifestyle of an addict, their government, community, and families should collectively be defending women and girls (and men and boys) from the sort of trauma that makes a person feel worthless and want to constantly numb themselves. Obviously sexual abuse of women is not taken to seriously when there are people like Sowell, and Garrido who were convicted of violent crimes against women on the streets. They were not being closely monitored, well analyzed while incarcerated (how did they get paroled?!?!), and they were not rehabilitated (if that's a possibility for them). The suffering of women is not taken seriously as evidenced by the public gang rape of the young lady in California. I think this laissez faire attitude makes it easier for women to be victimized by predators. Drug addicts aren't simply the idiots of society. Many of them don't know how to cope with reality. I don't know why some people who are abused manage to work through it and not go down the wrong path. I don't think it makes them more valuable than those who don't handle it as well. We'd like to think that our good fortune is simply because we're good, smart people. That surely is a factor. And there is a bit of luck involved as well. One small decision can make or break a life. Do you think things would have been different if these men had previously committed sexual crimes against men and boys? Would they have been so loosely monitored and paroled?
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
I am a Cleveland Resident. I don't feel that the "war on drugs" had anything to do with this case. There are so many more things that this case is about. Most of these women were never reported missing. This is a problem with the families as well as the system. Most of these women were troubled. Most had run away from home a number of times, and their familes just figured this was "another one of those times". Most of these women were mothers. They ran out one night for one reason or another, and never came back to their families... and I'm quite sure that their deaths did not happen on the first nights that they were away. This man prayed on these particular women. Every one of their stories is similar - drug addictions, jail time, run ins with law enforcement. I don't think we can blame the way the city/system treated these women as the reason for their deaths. Most would have eventually arrived back home again, had this man not ever existed. There problems, in my opinion, go well beyond free - prison required - rehabilition time. I agree with other posters above. The city can't make them get better. Their life, their connections, they will just come back, take over, and start off where they left off all over again. With out the will and want to change, and a strong family support system - they won't get better. It's a sad story, but if it hadn't been drug addicted women that attracted him, who knows what it could have been... college students, neighbors? He is a sick man. I think the problems start more with how he was treated/ rehabilitated as a sex offender, rather than the women he attacked. Just my opinion.
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
By the way, I mean, not by the was. When is spell-check going to smarten-up and start catching grammatical errors?
Bettye-Wayne Bettye-Wayne 7 years
I don't know if the war on drugs is to blame, but it certainly is a huge waste of tax-payer dollars. We've been waging this war for what, 20 years now? Nothing has changed a bit. I say: decriminalize marijuana, end this ridiculous war on drugs, let the cops bust hard-drug dealers when the opportunity arises, and make treatment more affordable and available. I don't realistically expect that to happen, and it may not even make this country a better place if it did, but I can't see how it would make it worse. I live in Cleveland and have lived here all my life. I smoked marijuana regularly when I was younger and still do on very very rare occasions when my little one is visiting her daddy, and while I've never done crack or heroin or methamphetamine I've tried just about everything else at least a couple of times when I was younger. It's well know that if you want anything just go to the east side (Mr. Sowell's neighborhood). There is so much crime and poverty on the east side and every year it creeps further west. The police here are so overburdened... it's tragic and ridiculous. They waste so much time busting petty weed dealers when they could be out there busting real criminals... like Mr. Sowell. Jail/prison, as far as I know, doesn't cure addiction- "Jail taught me a lesson, I'm going to clean my life up know..." How often does someone who's been incarcerated serve their time, get released, and say that? I'm sure it happens, but not often. As it's been pointed out, you can't help someone who's not ready to help themselves. If drug offenders are put through rehab, most will walk right back out and start using again. Not all though- some will take it as an opportunity to get clean and change their lives for the better. They need to at least have the opportunity. After all- an 80% failure rate is better than our current 99% failure rate, isn't it? By the was I just made those numbers up, but they seem accurate.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Jayde, not to get too off topic, but what ever happened with the guy who abducted the girl from the Target? That was such a scary and sad story.
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I'd like to know what Frazier would suggest the government do. You can't help people against their will. I also don't think more assistance for drug addicts is going to take the target off of women... it just makes serial killer sense to go for the weak victims that have no one to report them missing. I'm more concerned about the fact that this wasn't John Doe on a pig farm, this was a registered sex offender with next door neighbors, and it's hard to believe there was never any suspicion that something wasn't right.
Studio16 Studio16 7 years
I totally agree with chloe bella. Deny it all you want, but we are physically the weaker sex. If some freak wants to kill someone, is he going to go for a guy who can probably defend himself, or a girl who most likely can't take down a large man? Now, how about a girl who's in a drug induced haze? Yeah. She's basically got zero chances. It's not the government's fault. It's certainly not President Obama or any other politician's fault if someone chooses to indulge in drugs. And don't blame the government for not stepping into help, either. Alcoholism and drug abuse are common in my family, I know first hand, like someone else posted: You cannot help people who aren't ready to admit that they have a problem/need help.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I don't agree with this at all. Women, in general, are more susceptible to crime, and being under the influence of drugs only increases that chance. It makes no sense to blame the government for failing to treat women for drug addiction without placing some blame on the women for becoming addicted in the first place.
Chouette4u Chouette4u 7 years
All of his "evidence" applies to men, too. I agree that we should try treating first time drug offenders as well as punish them, but at the end of the day, no system can force people to kick an addiction. It's not the legal system's fault that these women were such junkies that no one noticed they were missing. (BTW, I am not at all saying these women deserved to be murdered or somehow "asked for it", but I disagree that we should have just kept them in some treatment program indefinitely to make sure they didn't get killed)
runningesq runningesq 7 years
"According to the news reports, all of the dead women had, at one time or another, interacted with the criminal justice system as a result of their addictions, but none were successfully treated." I see A LOT of drug addicted women (and men) (I'm a prosecutor). It's very difficult to treat people who aren't ready for treatment. Even with resources (our detention center has a special program with drug addicts), those that aren't ready to get sober cannot be helped. Then you look at the lack of affordable resources in the community -- how many drug addicts have health insurance? -- and it's not surprising that even those who WANT help can't get it. My aunt was addicted to herion. My Dad spent thousands on inpatient centers but she never came totally clean. Very sad all around.
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