Role of Criminal Justice System and Illicit Drugs.

Role of Criminal Justice System and Illicit Drugs.

There is considerable debate about the role that the Criminal Justice system should play in the control of illicit drug use (Study Guide 1001CCJ 2003, p.69). The Australian drug policy currently operates within a prohibition model, which states that the production, distribution and use of illicit drugs are criminal offences (Cherney & Sutton 2003, p.342). However, over time a number of alternative approaches for reducing crime and other harms associated with drug use have been developed (Makkai 2000, p.78). The following essay will examine and discuss various issues surrounding the response of the criminal justice system in the regulation of drug use, and will also analyse the strengths and weaknesses of this response. First, research shows that prohibition has little or no effect on illicit drug abuse. Second there seems to be a strong argument regarding the extensive costs to the individual, society and the economy. Focus will be centered on alternative strategies, which combine with law enforcement adopting a harm minimisation approach to drug control. It is concluded that prohibition is certainly not the answer to Australia’s drug problem, and there seems little doubt that combinations such as law enforcement, medicalisation and harm minimisation based alternatives will be the drug policy of the future. To begin, however, a brief description of the historical origins of prohibition is offered, followed by a review of the criminal justice system’s goals in dealing with the control of illicit drugs. The prohibition of illicit drugs originated from a variety of reasons in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These included political economical, public health considerations as well as pressures from medical and moral groups (Study Guide 1001CCJ 2003, p.69). The rationale behind toughening illicit drug use in the 1960’s and 1970’s was, and continues to be primarily deterrence (Makkai 2000, p.64). Deterrence is ba…


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