Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America
Study reveals alarming pattern in imprisonment for drug crimes in Latin America
A comparative study on the impact of drug policies on the prison systems of eight Latin American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Uruguay – reveals that drug laws have contributed to the prison crises these countries are experiencing. The study Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America, published by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), found that the persons who are incarcerated for drug offenses tend to be individuals caught with small amounts of drugs, often users, as well as street-level dealers.
The drug laws impose penalties disproportionate to many of the drug offenses committed, do not give sufficient consideration to the use of alternative sanctions, and promote the excessive use of preventive detention. The weight of the law falls on the most vulnerable individuals, overcrowding the prisons, but allowing drug trafficking to flourish.
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