Ever wonder why police spend so much time enforcing failed drug laws? To find the answer, you just need to follow the money. Funding schemes and asset forfeiture laws have given law enforcement agencies strong financial incentives to continue the drug war. Because funding for drug task forces is often based on the number of arrests made and the amount of property seized in drug busts, the easiest way for local police to up their numbers and boost their careers is to target low-level drug offenders, not violent kingpins. To create arrest opportunities, police routinely rely on untrustworthy informants, conduct dangerous home invasions on flimsy evidence, frame suspects and commit perjury. Asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement agencies to seize property with minimal proof, putting the burden instead on suspects to prove their own innocence. Because these assets often go straight into the coffers of the enforcement agency, these laws have created financial incentives for property seizures that encourage corruption. DPA is working to end distorted drug war incentives that foster police corruption and encourage good cops to make bad decisions.
Law enforcement attitudes towards medical marijuana in California have been mixed. Generally, many law enforcement officials and associations have been hostile to medical marijuana, since California’s voters legalized it in 1996 and continuing today.
A former NYPD narcotics detective snared in a corruption scandal testified it was common practice to fabricate drug charges against innocent people to meet arrest quotas.
DPA Statement: Drug War Corrupts Police, Ruins Lives, Destroys Trust Between Law Enforcement and Community
Stephen Anderson, a former NYPD narcotics detective, testified yesterday that he regularly saw police plant drugs on innocent people as a way to meet arrest quotas. Mr. Anderson is testifying under cooperation with prosecutors after he was busted for planting cocaine on four men in a bar in Queens. "It was something I was seeing a lot of, whether it was from supervisors or undercovers and even investigators," said Anderson.
Responding to Public Pressure, Police Ordered To Not Arrest People if Marijuana Not in Plain View
Advocates Applauds New Directive, Which Could End Tens of Thousands of Illegal Arrests
NYPD Commission Ray Kelly issued an internal order this week commanding officers to follow existing New York State law by ending arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana – as long as the marijuana was never in public view. The order does not change the law itself – but simply instructs officers to comport with the law. This could result in tens of thousands fewer marijuana arrests annually in New York City.
The Global Commission, whose members include Kofi Annan and four former presidents, calls the drug war a failure and advocates a paradigm shift in global drug policy. The commission's bold recommendations include encouraging governments to experiment with legalization of drugs, particularly marijuana; putting an end to drug policies being driven by ideology and politics; and directing resources away from arresting and incarcerating so many people for drug law violations.
New York and London: New York University Press. 2009.
Collateral Costs: Incarceration's Effect on Economic Mobility is a collaborative effort between the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project and its Public Safety Performance Project (PSPP). The report examines the impact of incarceration on the economic opportunity and mobility of former inmates and their families.