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PROJECTING THE IMPACT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT ON COCAINE PREVALENCE: A SYSTEM DYNAMICS APPROACH

NCJ Number
142329
Journal
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 23 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1993) Pages: 281- 295
Author(s)
J B Homer
Date Published
1993
Length
15 pages
Annotation
This study presents an application of an existing system dynamics model of national cocaine prevalence to determine the potential impact of a relaxation of drug law enforcement.
Abstract
Following initial experimentation, three new policy- testing scenarios were settled upon to represent the range of options available for radically relaxing law enforcement relative to cocaine. In the first new policy scenario, all domestic efforts to interrupt supply through seizure are halted, extending from border interdiction to the removal of local inventories. In the second scenario, most arrests of users and dealers at the retail level are halted, while seizures and the arrest of high-level traffickers are still given high priority. In the third scenario, both seizures and arrests at all levels are halted. Each of the policies was tested over the period 1988-2004. Under a no-seizures policy, arrests for possession increase and largely offset any reduction in costs to the criminal justice system. Under the no-retail-level arrests policy, due to faster growth in user prevalence, both arrests and seizures grow more quickly. Under the no-seizures-and-no-arrests policy, both seizures and arrests are eliminated by definition. This is the only one of the three new policies that results in unequivocal savings to the criminal justice system. On the other hand, user prevalence and drug supply grow the most under this policy. Assuming that cocaine is still illegal (although decriminalized) under this policy, the policy may provide somewhat more money to the criminal underground and thus strengthen it. Although the model's predictive ability is limited by uncertainties about input assumptions, these uncertainties are well-defined, few in number, and bounded to some degree by historical and logical considerations. Even in the presence of such uncertainties, the model produces credible and valuable projections. 2 tables, 6 figures, and 17 references