Crack in America

reagan-wife-1Yesterday, I ran a blog written by Bill White showing the questionable ‘science’ that surrounded the so-called issue of crack babies. There was tremendous media hype about crack and crack babies at the time. Why?

I wrote on this issue in the educational series I wrote for Drink and Drugs News nearly a decade ago. Here’s what I wrote in a longer article entitled ‘Regulation and control of drugs: Part 2’.

‘In their book Crack in America, Craig Reinarman and Harry Levine point out the politics that surrounded crack in the US during the 1980s and 90s. Crack first appeared in late 1984 and 1985, primarily in impoverished African-American and Latino inner city neighbourhoods in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

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‘Moral panics, the limits of science & personal responsibility’ by Bill White

Time-Crack kidsFrom the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, new patterns of crack cocaine use dominated cultural headlines in sensationalized media frenzies that sociologists refer to as moral panics. 

Other than cocaine-related violence, no aspect of this alarm garnered greater attention than the images of premature, cocaine-exposed infants trembling within incubators of neonatal intensive care units.  Those infants and children became widely caricatured as “crack babies” and “crack kids” and their images were exploited to forge new laws and policies that in turn fueled dramatic expansions of the U.S. criminal justice and child welfare systems. 

Those most dramatically affected by the expansions were poor communities of color who witnessed unprecedented numbers of their young men imprisoned and their young women and children placed under the control of state child protection authorities.

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