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Smoking Them Out: How To Close Down a Crack House in Your Neighborhood

NCJ Number
Policy Review Issue: 71 Dated: (Winter 1995) Pages: 56-65
T Carlson
Date Published
10 pages
This article describes the effects on a neighborhood of having a crack house in its midst, and one man's technique for eliminating the menace.
Crack houses evolve slowly, but eventually turn into an eyesore, a neighborhood nuisance, and even a danger, as they tend to attract drug traffickers, burglars fencing stolen goods, and prostitutes. One lawyer in Washington, DC, organized his neighbors into a community organization which is in the process of suing the owners of crack houses for creating a public nuisance; in another city area, that tactic worked, as hours before the trial, the crack addicts moved out of their house and never returned. A resident of a slum area in Philadelphia created a group called Mantua Against Drugs; this group is usually able to successful abolish a crack house within two weeks. Citizens wanted to close a crack house approach the group, hold meetings, and sponsor a Thursday night march, in which participants carrying bullhorns and wearing white hardhats assemble outside the house and sing to the inhabitants of the house as well as drug users who approach the vicinity. As the drug dealers find their flow of customers pinched during their more lucrative trading hours, they move on to a new location. The group often takes its confrontation tactics to courts, where members urge judges to set high bail for drug traffickers.