New Report Shows Evidence of A “Drug War Détente”
Date:  05-02-2014

Thirty states have led the way to reforming drug policies
The Vera Institute of Justice released a new report Drug War Détente? A Review of State-Level Drug Law Reform , 2009 – 2013, complete with infographic.

The summary of the report states:

Ever since 1971, when President Richard Nixon declared an “all-out offensive” against drug abuse—“America’s public enemy number one”—drug interdiction has been a mainstay of crime control policy in the United States. Yet, despite more than four decades of concerted law enforcement effort, meaningful reductions in drug supply and use have remained elusive, and the fiscal and human costs of the “War on Drugs” have been immense.

In recent years, policymakers have begun to take note of research demonstrating that, for many offenders, community-based sanctions, including substance abuse treatment, are more effective at reducing recidivism than incarceration. Public attitudes, too, have shifted and now overwhelmingly support treatment and prevention efforts over punitive sanctioning policies.

From 2009 through 2013, more than 30 states passed nearly 50 bills reforming how their criminal justice systems define and enforce drug offenses. In reviewing this legislative activity, Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections found that most efforts have focused on making change in one or a combination of the following five areas:

  • Repealing or limiting mandatory penalties

  • Modifying drug sentencing schemes

  • Expanding access to early release mechanisms

  • Expanding or strengthening community-based sanctions

  • Ameliorating collateral consequences