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Drug Control and Reductions in Drug-Attributable Crime

NCJ Number
Jonathan P. Caulkins
Date Published
April 2014
23 pages
This third article on the calculation of the cost of drug-related crime in relation to drug supply and consumption argues that the reduction in drug-related crime can depend on how the reduction in drug consumption is achieved, because there is not a "one-for-one" link between quantity of a drug consumed and the amount of drug-related crime that can be causally traced back to that consumption.
The discussion is divided into five sections. The first four sections are mostly pessimistic about drug-supply control policies relative to demand-reducing interventions. The fifth section has a more optimistic view of law enforcement's potential contribution by suggesting that it focus on violence-control, not supply-control, a distinction not often emphasized or appreciated. The assumption that supply-side reduction in the availability of drugs will reduce consumption and thus the motivation to commit crime, particularly violence, cannot be supported. Reduction in supply may raise drug prices and thus increase drug users' motivation to commit property crime. It may also increase competition among drug-trafficking organizations, thus increasing drug-related crime. Given the lack of direct connection between reduced drug supply and drug consumption and reduction in drug-related crime, this article suggests that drug-related crime, particularly drug-related violence, be addressed with a strategy separate and distinct from supply-reduction and demand-reduction strategies. 2 figures and 30 references

Date Published: April 1, 2014