Debunking Link Between Drug Crimes and Violence

Via Sentencing Law and Policy: Check out this new law review article by Law Professor Shima Baradaran. It debunks the link between drug crimes and violence.

[This article] demonstrates that a connection between drugs and violence is not supported by historical arrest data, current research, or independent empirical evidence. That there is little evidence to support the assumption that drugs cause violence is an important insight, because the assumed causal link between drugs and violence forms the foundation of a significant amount of case law, statutes, and commentary.

In particular, the presumed connection between drugs and violence has reduced constitutional protections, misled government resources, and resulted in the unnecessary incarceration of a large proportion of non-violent Americans. In short, if drugs do not cause violence — and the empirical evidence discussed in this Article suggests they do not — then America needs to rethink its entire approach to drug policy.


An additional point made in the article: Enforcement of drug laws may be more responsible for the violence than the drugs:

Drug related violence may actually result from enforcement of drug laws, not the actual drugs....Indeed, when drug crimes do involve violence, the violence often results from competition among drug traffickers to establish their territory, which has more to do with the illegality of drugs than anything else. Those involved in manufacturing, selling, money laundering, debt collecting, or providing bodyguard services have higher violence rates than other drug criminals.

As you would expect with a law review article, all of the assertions in it are sourced.

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    Who has ever (none / 0) (#1)
    by Mikado Cat on Sun May 11, 2014 at 02:46:54 AM EST
    thought that the retail level of illegal drug sales has much violence associated with it?

    What I have heard is that laws related to possession of a gun while committing a crime, selling drugs, disarmed most sellers who became silent victims of other criminals.

    Gang vs gang has always been the bloody part of the trade, and exists by drugs being an illegal trade.

    the "violence & drugs" campaign (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sun May 11, 2014 at 09:09:01 AM EST
    started during the Nixon administration. this also is when the DEA came into existence. the "drug related violence" of particular interest to joe sixpack, was the threat of the desperate addict, leaping out of the shadows, assaulting and robbing innocent passers by, to support their habit.

    famous in republican lawnorder circles, it became an urban legend, though few actual incidents were ever reported. it sufficed to provide support for both mandatory minimum sentences, and "3 Strikes" legislation. that these had little to no effect on the actual existing drug problems was irrelevant.

    Democrats (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by Mikado Cat on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:39:00 PM EST
    attempting to appear tough on crime share plenty of blame, its not a partisan issue, but each side does contribute in its own unique way. Chances are it will take a Republican to sort it out, as its politically too hot for a Democrat.

    Dog bites man (none / 0) (#3)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun May 11, 2014 at 11:10:50 AM EST

    I have (none / 0) (#4)
    by lentinel on Sun May 11, 2014 at 11:11:10 AM EST
    seen people who are drunk become violent. Physically and verbally abuse.

    I have never seen a person who is stoned become violent. Never.

    And that second part about violence and drugs: I think of the law enforcement people shooting at dealers - or doing crazy and dangerous car chases - knocking people down... we're caught in the crossfire.

    Legalize it, end the cartels, let us lead our lives and get the cowboys to put their guns in their holsters.

    this would be the sane response. (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sun May 11, 2014 at 02:59:46 PM EST
    "Legalize it, end the cartels, let us lead our lives and get the cowboys to put their guns in their holsters."

    the problem is the vast quantities of money, and jobs, attendant with keeping it illegal. that's why the DEA, etc. have, in the months leading up to legalizing pot in WA & OR, been practically hysterical, citing non-existent data, to "prove" that pot was both addictive, and caused people to become violent and suffer brain damage.


    Completely (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by lentinel on Sun May 11, 2014 at 04:03:13 PM EST

    They are interchangeable - the cartels, mob, what have you, and the government agencies that are dependent on their existence for their paychecks.

    And what would the pols have to campaign against?

    They might actually have to come with original ideas to improve our lives.


    The DEA (5.00 / 3) (#10)
    by NYShooter on Mon May 12, 2014 at 12:08:51 PM EST
    has done as much to reduce drug related violence as the NRA has in reducing gun related violence.

    Once again the axiom rings true: "the cure is worse than the disease,"


    Here, too (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by sj on Mon May 12, 2014 at 02:55:27 PM EST
    that's why the DEA, etc. have, in the months leading up to legalizing pot in WA & OR, been practically hysterical...
    Same in Colorado. Now that that didn't get much traction they've switched to "the children!".

    Right now it is absolutely scandalous that "the children!" can't tell the difference between a spiked and un-spiked brownie by looking at it. Never mind that this is decades old news. And never mind that "the children!" can't tell the difference between orange juice and mimosas.

    Suddenly this is alarming news.


    And when ... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by kdog on Tue May 13, 2014 at 09:17:30 AM EST
    people stop buying the old trusty standby "think of the children!" bullsh*t, the shameless DEA reduces itself to dragging the one thing Americans love more than our children into it....our pets.  "Think of the dogs!".

    Desperation is a stinky cologne, Leonhart.


    Think of the unemployed DEA thugs (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Mr Natural on Tue May 13, 2014 at 10:21:28 AM EST
    is more like it.

    If the dogs are (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Zorba on Tue May 13, 2014 at 07:30:36 PM EST
    getting sick because of ingesting pot brownies, it ain't the pot, it's the chocolate.
    The theobromine in chocolate is toxic to dogs.
    If Leonhart is so worried about our dogs, maybe she should be warning about the dangers of chocolate, itself.
    Coloradans and Washingtonians should keep all brownies way from their dogs.  Same with their Hershey Bars, Russell Stover chocolates, and so on.
    She's really stretching it, isn't she?  She sounds pretty desperate.

    Lots of crime though IS (none / 0) (#8)
    by Mikado Cat on Sun May 11, 2014 at 06:44:54 PM EST
    tied to the illegal drug trade, mostly theft. Legalize the drugs and you shut down the black market where iphone's etc get traded for drugs. Once that crime dies down, people may start thinking we have more police and more jails than we need, and those jobs have powerful political sides.

    Nah (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jbindc on Mon May 12, 2014 at 07:10:39 AM EST
    They just step up their game in human trafficking, which is much more profitable anyway.