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The senseless war : the sentencing drug offenses arms race

Bagaric, Mirko, Hepburn, Samantha and Xynas, Lidia 2014, The senseless war : the sentencing drug offenses arms race, Oregon review of International Law, vol. 16, pp. 101-145.

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Title The senseless war : the sentencing drug offenses arms race
Author(s) Bagaric, Mirko
Hepburn, Samantha
Xynas, Lidia
Journal name Oregon review of International Law
Volume number 16
Start page 101
End page 145
Total pages 45
Publisher University of Oregon, School of Law
Place of publication Eugene, Or.
Publication date 2014
ISSN 1543-9860
Summary There has been a considerable increase in the penalties for drug trafficking following the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961, over fifty years ago. In many parts of the world, the sanctions are as severe as those for homicide and rape. This penalty escalation is at odds with the counter movement to decriminalise illicit drugs. Drug supplying is the only serious crime where there are widespread moves to decriminalize the main outcome of the crime – the use illicit drugs. This paper explores this paradox. It also examines the rationales for the increasingly harsh penalties for drug suppliers. We conclude that while there is no conclusive argument in favour of the decriminalizing drugs, the weight of empirical data does not establish any concrete benefits stemming from severe penalties for serious drug offenses. In particular, there is no correlation between longer prison terms for drug offenders and a reduction in the availability and use of drugs. We propose that the penalties for drug offenses should be reduced considerably. There is no useful objective that can be achieved by a twenty-five-year term of imprisonment that cannot be achieved by a term of five to ten years. A more measured sentencing response to serious drug offense penalties would make sentencing fairer and enable billions of dollars currently directed to imprisonment to be spent on more pressing community needs.
Language eng
Field of Research 180110 Criminal Law and Procedure
Socio Economic Objective 940405 Law Reform
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2014, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30068221

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Law
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.