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Are Our Drug Laws Working? Essay

1710 words - 7 pages

Iris Walker Kathy Anderson English 1020 02/12/2012
Are our drug laws working

I will be discussing drug-related crimes, besides what the financial burden is in our society. Additionally, I will bring out how two countries, the Netherlands and Portugal, addressed their drug problems in relation to crime. I do not believe that our drug laws are working because neither crime nor costs are going down.
Below is an excerpt that explains the relationship between drugs and crime:
Economic crimes include those that are committed by drug users in order to support additional drug use. These crimes may not be inherently violent, but may become violent. The strongest indicator ...view middle of the document...

Murder as a means of enforcing systemic codes, killing of informants, injury or death resulting from disputes over drug possession, territory, etc., are all included in this definition (Goldstein, Brownstein, & Ryan, 1992).
Recent national statistics related to such crimes include:
* In 1999, nearly eighty-one percent (81%) of the arrests for drug abuse violations occurred as a result of possession and almost 20 percent (20%) were a result of drug sale and manufacturing (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000).
* Murders resulting from drug offenses totaled 564 in 1999 (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2000). (Crime)
This tells us that more people commit crimes to support their habit; but how do we deal with this? We lock them up! Does this solve the problem? Let’s look at some numbers:
Defendants convicted during 2004 were more likely to be sentenced to prison than those convicted during 1990. During 2004 about 78% of defendants were sentenced to prison compared to 60% of those sentenced during 1990. Ninety-three percent of felony violent offenders received prison terms, as did 94% of felony weapon and drug offenders, 90% of felony immigration offenders, 70% of felony public-order offenders, and 60% of felony property offenders. The 58,106 offenders sentenced to prison received, on average, 59.7 months of imprisonment. Offenders sentenced for felony violent offenses, felony weapon offenses, and felony drug offenses received longer average prison terms (96.2, 84.3, and 83.6 months, respectively) than those convicted of felony property, immigration, or public-order offenses (27.4, 26.9, and 43.6 months, respectively). While the proportion of defendants sentenced to prison is at an all-time high, average prison sentences have declined from the peak attained during 1992. During 1992 the average prison term imposed was 62.6 months; for drug felony offenders, the average term was 84.1 months. Violent felony offenders, however, received a longer sentence in 2004 (96.2 months compared to 94.8 months in 1992). (Statistics)
DEA Arrests |
Calendar Year | Number of Arrests |
2010 | 30,922 |
2009 | 31,701 |
2008 | 28,555 |
2007 | 29,933 |
2006 | 30,690 |
2005 | 30,463 |
2004 | 30,613 |
2003 | 28,862 |
2002 | 30,363 |
2001 | 34,526 |
2000 | 39,770 |
1999 | 41,297 |
1998 | 38,470 |
1997 | 34,068 |
1996 | 29,272 |
1995 | 25,279 |
1994 | 23,135 |
1993 | 21,639 |
1992 | 24,540 |
1991 | 23,659 |
1990 | 22,770 |
1989 | 25,179 |
1988 | 24,853 |
1987 | 22,753 |
1986 | 19,884 |
Total | 723,196 |
Source: DEA (SMARTS) |
Defendant Statistical System (DSS) |
In 2010 we arrested 30.922 people for drug related crimes; say for example 21.000 of these offenders get a prison term of approx. 90 months which equals 7 years and 6 months. “Jail costs, on average, $60 a day.” (CONAN) The cost to the taxpayer would be for 21.000 prisoners per year $1.260.000 just for drug related crimes.

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