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Do State Asset Forfeiture Laws Explain the Upward Trend in Drug Arrests?

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 32 Issue: 2 Dated: 2009 Pages: 117-137
Stephen A. Bishopp; John L. Worrall
Date Published
21 pages
This study examined the potential relationship between State asset forfeiture laws and increase in drug arrests.
Findings from the study suggest that variation in drug arrest rates cannot be explained by drug asset forfeitures alone and therefore indicates a need to concentrate on other indicators of drug arrests. The data indicates that drug arrest rates vary from State to State and this variation has no discernable relationship to State asset forfeiture laws. Asset forfeiture laws permit the seizure and forfeiture of property, including cash, conveyances, and real property, derived from or used to facilitate criminal activity. Forfeiture is an enforcement option used most often with the intent of undermining the economic foundations of the illegal drug trade. Drug arrests have increased steadily for close to 30 years, yet drug use fluctuated wildly during this same period. It has been argued and found that State forfeiture laws may explain variation in drug arrests. In an attempt to replicate these findings, this study used data from 572 law enforcement agencies. Tables and references


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