U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

War on Drugs and Correctional Warehousing: Alternative Strategies for the Drug Crisis

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 25 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 1997 Pages: 43-60
Michael Welch
Date Published
18 pages
This article examines the current strategy to combat illegal drug use and its effect on corrections.
In reviewing three schools of thought on drug control policy, assumptions offered by the public health generalists, the legalists, and the cost benefit specialists are delineated. Moreover, four potential elements of drug-control strategy -- supply reduction, treatment, prevention/education, and decriminalization -- are also scrutinized. In critically appraising the war on drugs, the discussion addresses issues of race, class, and the need to reach beyond criminal justice strategies, especially incarceration, in reducing drug consumption. Although it is reasonable to rely on police and other components of the criminal justice system to guard citizens against the violence associated with drug use and drug dealing, critics question whether nonviolent drug addicts should be processed into the criminal justice system. Because nonviolent drug violations (possession) are victimless crimes, the criminal justice system should defer these law-breakers to social, not criminal justice, agencies. In medicalizing drug addiction, treatment, not punishment, becomes the goal of intervention. Currently, however, the dominant model of drug control is still based on punishment, and in some progressive jurisdictions, punishment is accompanied by a mild commitment to treatment. Because widespread substance abuse essentially is a symptom of deeper social problems, the treatment of individual addicts is not sufficient to address the problem either. Attention must also be paid to social and racial inequality that leads to poverty, unemployment (underemployment), substandard education, and inaccessible health care. 64 references


No download available