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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 135527 Find in a Library
Title: On the Consequences of Toughness
Author(s): P Reuter
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 29
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Rand Corporation
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
Publication Number: N-3447-DPRC
Sale Source: Rand Corporation
1776 Main Street
P.O. Box 2138
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States of America

National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper is critical of a "tough" approach to drug law enforcement and suggests that perhaps the focus should be on getting drug users into treatment and making drug dealing less conspicuous.
Abstract: Disagreements about the punitiveness of drug control during the 1980's have two components. The first is whether the system imposes greater legal sanctions on users and sellers than it did 10 years ago. The second is whether the risk of legal sanctions is substantial enough to be a credible deterrent. Survey data on high school seniors suggest that their decreasing use of marijuana and cocaine is due to perceptions of health dangers rather than enforcement risks. In addition, it is possible that a highly punitive approach to drug control, regardless of its effect on drug use, may make society worse off by increasing violence, seller incomes, buyer income needs, drug-related crime, and morbidity and mortality associated with drug use. Treatment and prevention, on the other hand, have none of these undesired side effects. The author makes three assertions that he considers relevant to drug policy formulation: (1) general user sanctions have little deterrent effect; (2) vigorous enforcement against high-level dealers, smugglers, and refiners does little to raise the retail price, but may engender instability in producer countries and corruption in transit nations; and (3) saturated enforcement against dealers in street markets increases the level of violence associated with drug trafficking. An appendix provides additional information on drug use and drug law enforcement. 35 references, 34 notes, and 8 tables
Main Term(s): Drug law enforcement
Index Term(s): Drug abuse; Drug regulation; Drug Related Crime; Drug treatment
Note: Rand Note
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