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Drug Policy: A Challenge of Values

Sterling, Eric E
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) In Criminal Justice: Retribution vs. Restoration. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work 23(1/2): 51-81.

This paper argues that the war on drugs is based on retributive values that are illogical, burden the criminal justice system, and are ineffective in reducing drug-related harm. It examines the relation between political agendas and anti-drug legislation. It demonstrates that anti-drug policy has resulted in dramatically increased punishment and incarceration since 1970, after four decades at a level rate, especially for blacks. This paper contends that segregation was a form of nonjudicial punishment for blacks until 1970, and concludes that the war on drugs has become a punishment substitute for segregation. It argues that drug prohibition must be replaced by regulation and that devising such a system involves a complex balance of competing values. Author’s abstract.


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