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Street-Level Drug Enforcement: Examining the Issues

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1988
60 pages
This volume presents a study that advocates street-level crackdowns on heroin markets, suggesting they may reduce non-drug crime as well; it also includes three critical reviews of the study.
The primary paper, authored by Mark Kleiman, a policy analyst at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, presents a theory on the potential benefits and costs of street-level drug enforcement. His central hypothesis asserts that crackdowns on street-level heroin dealers and buyers increase the non-money costs of drug use (the risk of arrest and the time required to find new sources of drugs) and reduce consumption. Based on an analysis of data collected in several areas that have experienced crackdowns on street drug markets, Kleiman concludes that "street-level heroin crackdowns, under some circumstances, produce great benefits at modest costs." One critical review endorses the policy of street-level crackdowns, but views their primary purpose to be that of improving the quality of life in areas dominated by dealers and addicts. The two other reviewers are less optimistic about the results of crackdowns. They argue that such crackdowns merely shift the locale of drug dealing, but one reviewer agrees with Kleiman that such a tactic must be tried and evaluated in a given community before a reliable assessment of the policy can be made. None of the authors suggest that street-level drug enforcement by itself can eliminate the use of illicit drugs. The issue is what effects can reasonably be expected from such an enforcement tactic. Tables, figures and notes accompany the papers. A 52-item bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 1988