Drug related crime is one of the most endemic set of crimes that is present in the USA. These crimes encompass everything from possession through to manufacturing and distributing. The hierarchy in drug-related crimes points to two key groups of criminals, which are: 1) those that are linked to large-scale organized crime, which treat drugs as a commodity; and 2) the marginalized individuals that engage in drug activities due to socio-economic factors, most notably marginalization. It is the latter group that this discussion will examine, because through appropriate strategies there can be effective prevention techniques used by law enforcement (Greberman & Wada, 1994).
An important factor that has to be recognized is drug-related crimes that result from marginalization require a range of techniques, in order to overcomes the socio-legal factors that have pushed the individual into drug-related crime (Greberman & Wada, 1994). The perception of the individual with respect to the social and criminal justice systems is based on distrust, which pushes the individual into drug crimes and addition. This means that the societal factors that are causing the marginalization should be directly tackled (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012). This means that the criminal justice system should not be treating those drug related offenders in group 2 in the same way as group 1. This is because the underlying factors that have given rise to criminality are fundamentally different.
A treatment and rehabilitative approach needs to be applied to the marginalized person, in order to reduce re-offending (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012). This means that by bringing the marginalized drug offender back into society, there will be increased likelihood that the individual contributes to society in the future. The no-tolerance approach of the war on drugs will not work with these individuals, because the core cause of the criminality is entrenched in social factors. Thus, the use of drug treatment courts is more appropriate (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012).
It may seem that there is an added expense of creating a new layer in the criminal justice system; however, the long-term reality is that there will be cost effectiveness. The reason for this is that the drug rehabilitation court is more likely to prevent re-offending in group 2 drug offenders (Spohn & Hemmens, 2012). Thus, on a long-term basis, the drug rehabilitation court for group 2 offenders is cost effective.
- Greberman, SB & Wada, K. (1994). Social and Legal Factor Related to Drug Abuse in the United States and Japan. Public Health Reports Vol 109 Iss, 6, 731-737
- Spohn, Cassia and Craig Hemmens (2012) Courts: A Text/Reader.2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.