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Crime-Minimizing Drug Policy

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 39 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2011 Pages: 286-288
Mark A.R. Kleiman; Lowry Heussler
Date Published
June 2011
3 pages
This paper examines the benefits of changing current drug policies to control non-drug crime.
The objective of this paper was to identify changes in drug abuse control measures that would reduce non-drug crime. Using policy analysis to expand current anti-drug efforts in the conventional triad of enforcement, prevention, and treatment (including drug courts) holds out little hope of reducing non-drug crime. Routine drug law enforcement risks increasing crime by raising drug prices and creating incentives for violence among dealers. Low-arrest crackdowns to break up flagrant markets promise better results. Even good prevention programs have modest effect sizes, and most prevention programs are not based on proven models. The overlap between the population of heavy illicit drug users and the population of frequent non-drug offenders presents a problem and a policy opportunity that current programs largely fail to grasp. Drug treatment, except for opiate substitution, has difficulty recruiting and retaining clients, and weak sanctions systems render treatment mandates largely nominal. Abstinence-mandate programs such as HOPE and Sobriety 24/7 have shown superior results in reducing re-offending and incarceration. Raising alcohol taxes reduces heavy alcohol use and crime due to intoxication without generating any offsetting criminogenic effects. The study found that current drug policies are not optimally designed for the control of non-drug crime. Improvements are within relatively easy reach. (Published Abstract)