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Crime-minimizing drug policy

Mark A.R. Kleiman and Lowry Heussler

Journal of Criminal Justice, 2011, vol. 39, issue 3, 286-288

Abstract: Objective To identify changes in drug abuse control measures that would reduce non-drug crime.Method Policy analysis.Results Expanding 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.Conclusion Current drug policies are not optimally designed for the control of non-drug crime. Improvements are within relatively easy reach.

Date: 2011
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