Healthcare Not Handcuffs: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform

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December 12, 2013
Drug Policy Alliance, American Civil Liberties Union

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts to enact policy changes that promote safe and healthy communities, without excessively relying on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the war on drugs, and which fall so disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color. Even with its challenges, the ACA sets the stage for a new health-oriented policy framework to address problems such as substance use and mental health disorders by more appropriately and effectively casting substance use and mental health disorders as matters of public health and not of criminal justice. To assist advocates in navigating this new terrain, Healthcare Not Handcuffs: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Law Reform outlines some of the major provisions of the ACA immediately relevant to criminal justice and drug policy reform and explores specific applications of those provisions, including program and policy examples and suggested action steps.

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