Let my dealers go!

The drug problem wouldn’t get much bigger if the number of dealers in prison got much smaller.

Jonathan Caulkins and Peter Reuter doubt we need to keep half a million people behind bars on drug charges to avoid a big upsurge in the volume of illicit drugs consumed. Even if I weren’t predisposed to agree with that conclusion, I’d be inclined to take their word for it, as they’re two of the five or six sharpest, sanest, and best-informed people thinking about these problems.

We have a higher proportion of our population in prison on drug law charges than any (other) civilized country has on all charges put together. The problem with ijncarcerating drug dealers (as opposed, say, to burglars) is that there is strong market pressure to replace them.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Let my dealers go!”

  1. True enough, but the more fundamental problem with government locking up drug dealers is that it is not the government's business to prohibit activities on the basis that they are pleasurable.

  2. True enough, but another more fundamental problem is that it is not the government's business to control our bodies. If the government, as the Supreme Court has said, cannot prohibit the use of condoms or abortions, then it shouldn't be able to tell us what plants to ingest. If it can do that, then it can totally regulate our diet in the interest of health. Put too much butter on your popcorn and go to prison.

  3. Well said; The problem isn't that it doesn't work, the problem is that those people don't belong behind bars, even if it did work.

  4. I think that going to prison on a drug related charge is to rediculous, unless your a big mobster drug lord, but if you are just the guy in the corner trying to feed your family and pay the bills because you cant find a job thats just not right to go to prison .But the government doesn't understand what its like to live in poverty.People have to do what they got to do in order to survive in this messed up world of ours.

  5. I think that going to prison on a drug related charge is to rediculous, unless your a big mobster drug lord, but if you are just the guy in the corner trying to feed your family and pay the bills because you cant find a job thats just not right to go to prison .But the government doesn’t understand what its like to live in poverty.People have to do what they got to do in order to survive in this messed up world of ours.

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