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Research in the Fight in the War Against Drugs

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1990
12 pages
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Director's address at the Greater Washington, D.C., Kiwanis Club in February 1990 focused on NIJ efforts to combat drug use and trafficking.
The drug problem in the United States is partially due to the laissez faire attitude toward drugs commonly held in the 1960's, an attitude that shaped drug control policies in several ways. First, drug use was handled only by the criminal justice system and was not the shared responsibility of families, schools, employers, and other social institutions. Second, given limited resources and weakened public resolve to punish drug users, criminal justice priorities shifted. Drug prosecution costs were high, and an evidentiary hearing was required before a trial could take place. If a drug user was tried and convicted, the sentence generally involved probation and treatment to save prison space for more violent criminals. In 1990, there is a growing national consensus that even casual drug use cannot be tolerated and that innovative sanctions are necessary to raise the stakes for both drug retailers and drug consumers. The NIJ is working on a number of ideas to create a less tolerant "business environment" for local drug markets. These efforts include the Drug Market Analysis Network to computerize information about drug trafficking, the Drug Use Forecasting Program, the Demand Reduction Program in Arizona, and day fines for offenders in New York City.

Date Published: January 1, 1990