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May 20, 2005

An assessment of the war on drugs by the RAND Corporation

Thanks to an informed reader, I have just learned that The RAND Corporation a few months ago issued an interesting report entitled "How Goes the 'War on Drugs'? An Assessment of U.S. Drug Problems and Policy."  The report, which is overviewed in this research brief and is available in full text here, aspires to present "a concise, accessible, objective view of where the United States has been, now stands, and is going in the future in its long 'war on drugs.'"

Here are some highlights from this press release by RAND concerning the report's interesting findings and conclusions:

The study reviewed evidence for and against the effectiveness, costs and consequences of U.S. drug policies of the past 20 years. It concludes that at different times in the course of a drug epidemic, enforcement, treatment and prevention can all be successfully used to reduce illicit drug use and the crime and violence with which it is associated.

However, the strategies are not equally effective in all stages of a drug use epidemic. For example, law enforcement is most effective in the early stages of a drug epidemic, when relatively fewer suppliers are available and suppressing the supply is easier. In contrast, treatment is more effective in the later stages of a drug use epidemic, when a much larger percentage of ongoing users are drug dependent.

The study suggests that for drugs with mature epidemics such as cocaine, the current allocation of resources for controlling the drug should be redistributed among law enforcement, treatment and prevention to maximize their effectiveness.  Most cocaine-control spending is focused on enforcement, but the report suggests that spending more to treat heavy drug users would be more effective.

Among the many interesting aspects of the RAND report is a express pitch, like the pitch I made in this recent post, for embracing what might be called criminal justice federalism:

• Draw strength from cross-state variations in drug policy.  The federal government has sought to rein in those few states whose policies have deviated from its own. The government might instead tolerate and seek to learn from state variations that do not seriously undermine the intent of the federal strategy.

May 20, 2005 at 10:26 AM | Permalink


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Tracked on Jul 6, 2005 8:21:01 PM


Thanks for providing this helpful information.

Posted by: doug | May 20, 2005 11:19:18 AM

Prof. Berman:

Thanks for posting that Rand study. I too had missed it.

I am an uneducated slob with an intense interest in the forward motion of humanity which keeps me more and more interested in ending the terrorist funding, anti democratic authoritarian anarchy of the drug war.

Following is a reference to my latest essay.

NYT Editorial Board enabling 364,000 prisoner rapes every year?

"The New York Times Editorial on Friday June 10, 2005 seems laudable,
"Fighting AIDS Behind Bars". Their concern though is not for the humane and moral treatment of the prisoners but to reduce the incidence of released prisoners spreading beyond the prison walls AIDs, HIV and other STDs, that they contract while in prison. The New York Times Editorial Board solution for preventing the spread of disease into our society from prisons is to give prisoners condoms."


The New York Times Editorial Board advocating condoms while failing to address the real cause of the uncontrolled spread of disease in prisons is bereft of empathy for the victims of the Drug War's mandatory minimums of anal rape tough love.

At LeftIndependent: http://leftindependent.blogspot.com/


Also, I host a pop quiz just for a giggle.

Who Said:"
"When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."
The choices: Jesse Jackson, Cardinal Law, Jim Wallis, Neal Horsley, Jimmy Swaggart.

Consider sharing it with folks who could enjoy the joke. And thanks again for all of you great resources and perspectives on these issues. If we don't say it nobody will.


Posted by: aahpat | Jun 12, 2005 2:23:34 PM

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