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Drug policies in any country relate to both men and women and vary from country to country. The United States drug policy began criminalization on use of drugs in the 21st century. Here, the United States view was that drug addiction was the crime and prohibited the use of illegal drugs. Canada our neighboring country has a drug policy that is directed to the decrease of health, economic and social effects of drug abuse.
This comparative report will discuss several issues such as: the frequency of drug abuse in relation to incarceration rates between the United States and Canada, the cost of drugs in the United States vs. Canada, the occurrence of crime associated with drug abuse, this report will also go over the criminalization model as well as the harm reduction model and drug control policies in the United States and Canada.
The Frequency of drug abuse in the United States: Incarceration Rates
Mauer & King (2007) stated that drug arrests have tripped in the last twenty five years, going from 581,000 drug related arrests in 1980 to 1,846,351 drug related arrests in 2005. As these drug related rates increased ten-fold from 1980 and 2000 this has also brought on the increase in number of drug related offenses in state and federal institutions. (Boyum & Reuter, 2005; Bewley-Taylor, Hallam, & Allen, 2009).
The Frequency of drug abuse in Canada: Incarceration Rates
Although the rapidly increasing drug related rates seem high in the United States; Canada however is known to have the highest amount of drug related users per capita over any other nation (Bewley-Taylor et al., 2009). Even though Canada has more drug related users the percentage of drug related offenders held in prisons are a lot lower than the United States. Riley (1998) states that there are about 1,200 inmates in Canadian federal prisons serving more than two years for drug related offenses.
However in 2006 Canada had 909 women drug offenders 44% (401) were incarcerated for drug related crimes, where 56% (508) were held on conditional release (Correctional Service of Canada Drug Policy in the United States and Canada, 2006).
Motiuk & Vuong (2002) stated as of 2001 94.1% of all drug related crime offenders were men whereas women drug related offenders was only 5.9%. Drug related incarceration rates are noteworthy indicators in relation to drug abuse.
The cost of drugs in the United States:
The Office of National Drug Control Policy states that the cost of drug abuse in the United States estimated at around $180.9 billion dollars in 2002. This cost corresponds to the resources needed to take in hand the effects of health and crime. This number also pertains to loss of employment, disability, and death. This analysis shows that drug related abuse has augmented on average of about 5.3% each year from 1992 through 2002.
This analysis also shows that drug related costs pertained to the criminal justice efforts put forth, especially in relations to incarceration rates due to drug related offenses and law enforcement costs and adjudication.
This analysis also pertains to the increase amounts that are related to prevention, treatment and health consequences (ONDCP, 2001).
The cost of drugs in Canada:
The Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse published a report on the costs of substance abuse in Canada in 2002. This report covers the effects of tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs in relations o death, illness, and costs in 2002.
What this report uncovered was that the use of illegal drugs puts not only an economic strain on Canada, but a widely impacts the costs in relations to health care and criminal justice, along with the indirect fees on disability and death due to drug related issues.
Rehm et al. (2006) stated that the total annual cost of drug abuse in Canada was $39.8 billion in Canadian money, which totals out to a cost of $1,267 to each Canadian.
The report also goes into further detail discussing that illegal drugs made up 20.7% of the total cost of drug abuse; (79.3%) and that these illegal drugs add up to $8.2 billion (20.7%).
Finally, the report goes further into detail and discusses the cost of drug abuse is high in relation to personal and social issues between women and men in the United States and Canada in the 21st century. Overall these costs are fundamentally different between the populations where the United States has 305 Million people vs. Canada with 33 million.
The Occurrence of Crime and Drug Abuse in the United States
Crime and drugs have always gone hand in hand with one another; this is particularly true for the Unites States in 2004 with about 17% of state offenders and 18% of federal offenders who are serving time for committing offenses such as selling drugs for money.
The percentage in 2004 is an increase from 1997 for federal offenders (16%); however for state offenders this percentage has decreased since 1997 (19%) (Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS], 2004).
With the use of The Uniform Crime Reporting Program conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) it has been reported in 2006 that out of 15000 homicides 5.3% of them had some type of drug relation linked to the homicide. The National Crime Victimization Survey reported that in 2005, 5.2 million victims ages 12 or older reported some type of crime committed against them in which the offender was on some type of drug. Out of these victims who reported crimes against them they were asked if the offender was using or on some type of drug or if the offender had been or was drinking. The results of this survey given to these victims were that 27% reported that the offender was on some type of drug(s) (BJS, 2006).
The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that in 2002 29% of convicted offenders serving sentences in jail admitted that at the time of their offense they were under the influence of an illegal drug(s) which is a 6% decrease from 1996. Adding to this report, those inmates who were serving time in jail for robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft, or weapons violation reported that they were under the influence of an illegal drug(s) at the time of their offense. Moreover, Cocaine, crack, and marijuana were the drug(s) these inmates reported being under the influence of at the time of their offense (BJS, 2002).
Since 2006, the adult correctional population and incarceration community increased to 7.2 million and by the end of 2006 there were 1 in every 31 adults incarcerated on parole or probation due to a drug related offense (Glaze & Bonczar, 2007).
Reports also show that women who are incarcerated at the state and federal level has increased more than eight times since 1980 going from 12,300 to 182,271 in 2002.
From 1986 to 1999 this number increased by 888% in state prisons, which exceeded all men who were sentenced for a drug related offense.
More than one million women are on probation, parole, in jail, or are serving time in state or federal prisons regarding some type of drug related offense (Bloom, (1993).
However, men still rank higher than women in prisons that are sentences for some type of drug offense but this gap is becoming smaller. With 40% of women being convicted of drug offenses and the number of admitted female offenders rising in state and federal prisons is on the rise (Harrison, Allen & Beck, 2005).
In addition, more women are being served more lifetime sentences for drug related offenses going from 0.3% in 1974 to 1.8% in 2001 (BJS, 2004).
The Occurrence of Crime and Drug Abuse In Canada
Canada's drug related crime is also on the rise with crime offenses related to drug(s) increasing 42% since 1990 putting this rate at a twenty year record high. Marijuana is the cause of 72% which works out to be 3 out 4 drug related offenses committed; this also puts production and the import of marijuana offenses at a record high as well. Marijuana offenses in general have also increased from the 1990s to 2002 by 80% which many of these offenses were related to having possession of marijuana.
Just like that in the United States Cocaine is also at a high rate in Canada; with 60% of all homicide offenders having cocaine in their system at the time of the offense (Statistics Canada, 2004).
Domestic Drug Policies: The Criminalization Model & The Harm Reduction Model
Decreasing the drug related offenses in both the United States and Canada are achieved by using diverse models. The United States uses a criminalization model which prohibits the use of illegal drugs all together. In Canada, the harm reduction model is utilized to decrease the outcomes of drug related issues; such as health, economic significance, as well as social consequences.
The criminalization model used in the United States requires an in-depth amount of strong enforcement to be instilled, which is the focus used for this model to work (Boyum & Reuter, 2005). This further entails that every law put into place against illegal drugs will be enforced upon. Offenders who are in possession of or who have an intent to sell are charged, usually with this charge comes with a fine and can also have the offender incarcerated for committing a drug offenses (Haden, 2002).
Canada on the other hand utilizes the harm reduction model which was established in 1987 (Riley & O'Hare, 2000). This model utilizes four support groups in order to achieve stability for public order as well as public health. The four groups compile of prevention, treatment, enforcement, and harm reduction (MacPherson, 2001).
This framework is geared towards those offenders in need of rehabilitation treatment for their drug addiction all awhile focusing on public disorder of drugs and reducing the use of them.
The harm reduction model's main foundation is to diminish all the health hazards associated with drugs as well as the behaviors that are related to drug addictions/abuse. This model also focuses mainly on diminishing harm that coincides with drug addiction/abuse such as legal issues.
The harm reduction model also states that "no one should be denied services, such as healthcare and social security, merely because they take certain risks or exhibit certain behaviors that are generally disapproved of by society as a whole, or its laws."
Additionally, this model utilizes a social justice approach when trying to help change offenders behaviors associated with drug addiction/abuse, whereas in the United States the criminalization model utilized incarceration for such behaviors (MacPherson, 2001).
Dispute for Change
Policies on drugs in relation to crime in the United States have started many arguments on whether these policies actually work. Lyman and Potter (1998, p. 438) argues that ''Modern drug control policy is earmarked by a number of policy strategies, each designed to address a specific aspect of the nation's drug problem.'' With this said the strategies utilized in these policies contain a demand and supply reduction, suppression, education, and rehabilitation.
With many of these strategies put in place within these policies, not one has demonstrated any positive effectiveness in reducing the usage of drugs (Lyman & Potter, 1998). Some see this countries drug problem as simply just a behavioral issue; hence the main focus should be implemented on fixing the behaviors of these drug offenders by enforcing a strict policy on punishing drug offenders (Cheung, 2000).
With the ever growing number of drug offenders being incarcerated, Boyum and Reuter (2005) state that there is little to prove that the strict punishment enforced on these drug offenders has any positive effect in reducing drug use in the Unites States.
In the 1980s the United States cracked down heavily on the war on drugs implementing laws and policies to prohibit and punish offenders that are in possession, selling or are using drugs. In order for the United States to implement such a war on drugs it has cost the United States over $12 billion dollars and yet there is no evidence to show that this war on drugs police has had any effect on reducing drug use, the only thing the war on drugs policy has contributed to is to the overcrowding prison population (Boyum & Reuter, 2005). As a result the United States drug policies accentuate punishment for these drug offenders over any type of rehabilitation which has a higher impact within communities of lower income and minorities.
Canada's policy on drugs has a higher success rate, having a lower amount of offenders in prisons for drug offenses compared to the United States. This results in fewer arrests of offenders which is also lower than the United States as well as lower costs to keep these offenders in prison and a reduced number of ex-convicts in the community.
In 1990 Canada developed new drug laws, these laws were developed to tackle past drug issues and incorporated policies gained from foreign countries. However there is no solid evidence that these new policies put in place have had a significant effect on decreasing drug offenses.
However, the harm reduction model does provide information about drugs and the effects of drugs. This model also reduces the chances of issues among drug offenders and the community in which they live in because this model allows the drug offenders to still be connected to the community and others state that the drugs involved cannot disconnect from the social, physical, or policy surroundings that they are involved in, only stating that the policies that do work and can reduce drug offenders and the harm they inflict is only productive in a supportive type community that also involves rehabilitation and education (Riley and O'Hare (2000).
A modified advance to policies on drugs is one established by Europe where drug users/offenders are accepted as a responsible person of the community. Europe's policy on drugs treats the drug offender's addiction as a normal human nature issue and focuses very little on the effects it has on the offender as well as the community.
Europe spends much of their time investigating reasons as to why citizens use drugs to begin with; they look at factors such as environment, help from family members, and the level of education of drug users. Europe views the criminal justice system as a system that correlates the use of drugs with issues such as social disapproval along with unsuccessfulness and low standards for the drug user (Gatto, 2002).
In Europe, it is to be understood that a legal origin cannot be made to exclude independence of one's own body. However, if an open-minded view is used against drug offenders the country only seeing ways to improve the life for the offenders in the community (Gatto, 2002).
In conclusion, this report covered the frequency of drug abuse in relation to incarceration rates between the United States and Canada, the cost of drugs in the United States vs. Canada, the occurrence of crime associated with drug abuse, this report will also go over the criminalization model as well as the harm reduction model and drug control policies in the United States and Canada. Is there any drug policy out there that actually has positive effects? The answer is most likely No, however even though there isn't one overall policy on drugs that has an overall positive effect, I think the future is looking more toward using a greater humane approach rather than the use of harmful approaches.