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  1. Italy relaxes cannabis penalties

    12 February 2014
    Other news

    Italy's Constitutional Court struck down an anti-drug law from 2006 that imposed tough sentencing for the sale and possession of cannabis, putting it on the same level as heroin and cocaine.

  2. Italy's strict drug law goes up in smoke

    16 February 2014
    Other news

    On February 12, the Constitutional Court ruled that the Fini-Giovanardi law setting out penalties related to the sale and possession of illegal drugs, was improperly approved, and abrogated the law. Since then, Italy has returned to previous regulations that imposed lighter sanctions on cannabis users. Prisoners' rights organisations argued that harsh drug laws have created a booming prison population in a system that is already overcrowded. Since January 2013, Italy's prisons have been under the scrutiny of the European Court of Human Rights.

  3. Majority relaxed about cannabis use

    21 May 2012
    Other news

    More than half of Australians support reduced legal penalties for use of drugs such as cannabis and ecstasy, an analysis of a federal government survey shows. The findings contrast with the Herald/Nielsen poll released after the recent report of the think tank Australia 21 – urging to reopen the national debate on drug use, regulation and control – which showed that two-thirds of people opposed decriminalisation. But that is explained by the different way the poll questions were structured, said Alison Ritter, who heads a drug policy modelling program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW.

  4. Drug sentences now make more sense

    19 November 2012
    Other news

    The underlying aim of The Sentencing Council's new guideline for drug offences in England and Wales is to ensure sentences are consistent and the punishment proportionate. The guideline was launched in February 2012 and early results suggest it is beginning to have its desired effect. But achieving that consistency has involved a long process of research and careful testing of the results with judges, lawyers and the general public. (See also: Drugs, crime and punishment)

  5. Disproportionate penalties for drug offenses in Mexico

    Catalina Pérez Correa, Kristel Mucino
    11 November 2012
    Article

    The story of the Mexican drug war has generally focused on the violence perpetrated by drug cartels and the apparent inability to bring so many criminals to justice. Unfortunately—while it’s true many have evaded justice—there remain many more people who use drugs and those with very low levels of involvement in the drug trade, who have been swept up in recent crackdowns.

  6. tni-wola-idpc

    Response from IDPC to the Sentencing Council for England and Wales Consultation on the Drug Offences Guideline

    • Mike Trace
    01 June 2011

    The Sentencing Council for England and Wales initiated a consultation process in order to produce definitive sentencing guidelines for drugs offences for the UK in the future. In order to feed into this process, IDPC, in collaboration with TNI, held an Expert seminar on proportionality in sentencing for drug offences, on 20th May 2011, in London, UK. The seminar was an important gathering of international experts on the subject of proportionality and provided a space for fruitful and in depth discussions on sentencing experiences from around the world. A draft report of the meeting was sent to the Sentencing Council as part of the consultation process on 20th June.

     

  7. Latin America’s Anti-drug Policies Feed on the Poor

    04 September 2014
    Other news

    Poor young men, slumdwellers and single mothers are hurt the most by anti-drug policies in Latin America, according to representatives of governments, social organisations and multilateral bodies meeting at the Fifth Latin American Conference on Drug Policies held in San José, Costa Rica. Activists, experts and decision-makers from throughout the region demanded reforms of these policies, to ease the pressure on vulnerable groups and shift the focus of law enforcement measures to those who benefit the most from the drug trade.

  8. The United States rethinks draconian drug sentencing policies

    • Elizabeth Lincoln
    27 January 2015

    Across the Americas, an unprecedented debate on drug policy reform is underway. While a regional consensus on what form those reforms should take remains elusive, there are at least two issues where consensus is growing: the need to address drug use as a public health, rather than criminal, issue and the need to promote alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders and ensure proportionality in sentencing for drug-related crimes. Draconian drug laws were often adopted in Latin American countries with the encouragement – if not outright diplomatic, political and economic pressure – from the U.S. government.

  9. Addicted to punishment

    • Rodrigo Uprimny Yepes, Diana Esther Guzmán, Jorge Parra Norato
    31 December 2012

    In Latin America, trafficking cocaine so it can be sold to someone who wants to use it is more serious than raping a woman or deliberately killing your neighbor. While it may seem incredible, that is the conclusion of a rigorous study of the evolution of criminal legislation in the region, which shows that countries’ judicial systems mete out harsher penalties for trafficking even modest amounts of drugs than for acts as heinous as sexual assault or murder.

     

  10. On the death penalty for drugs

    02 March 2015
    Other news

    The Annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), released today, calls upon States that ‘continue to impose the death penalty for drug-related offences to consider abolishing the death penalty for such offences’.

  11. Is Obama finally ready to dial back the war on drugs?

    Jacob Sullum
    31 December 2014
    Other news

    As Obama embarks on the third year of his second term, here are some of the ways in which Obama has begun to deliver on his promises of a more rational, less punitive approach to psychoactive substances. Obama's most significant drug policy accomplishment may be letting states go their own way on marijuana legalization. Even if our next president is a Republican drug warrior, he will have a hard time reversing that decision, especially given the GOP’s lip service to federalism.

  12. The Next Step in Drug Treatment

    Icaria Editorial
    25 April 2013
    Other news

    The mandatory-sentencing craze that drove up the prison population tenfold, pushing state corrections costs to bankrupting levels, was rooted in New York’s infamous Rockefeller drug laws. These laws, which mandated lengthy sentences for nonviolent, first-time offenders, were approved 40 years ago next month. They did little to curtail drug use in New York or in other states that mimicked them, while they filled prisons to bursting with nonviolent addicts.

  13. Pot legalization: Gateway to what?

    12 November 2014
    Other news

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) plans to stay on the sidelines of future pot legalization campaigns – already supported by groups plotting ballot campaigns in 2016 – and pour resources into fights for criminal justice reform. One model to replicate is California's Proposition 47, approved by 58 percent to lower penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes. "We would love to be able to have ballot initiatives in a number of states that may look very similar to Proposition 47," says ACLU's Alison Holcomb . "Hopefully we will be able to find states where we can go further and say, ‘Let’s decriminalize the possession of drugs and let’s talk about what we can do to address drug use and abuse.’"

  14. Justices to Decide on Fairness in Drug Sentences

    28 November 2011
    Other news

    The Supreme Court agreed to resolve a question that has vexed the lower federal courts since Congress enacted a law to narrow the gap between sentences meted out for offenses involving two kinds of cocaine. Selling cocaine in crack form used to subject offenders to the same sentence one would get for selling 100 times as much in powder. The new law, the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, reduced the disparity to 18 to 1, at least for people who committed their offenses after the law became effective on Aug. 3, 2010.

  15. Obama calls for shorter sentences for nonviolent convicts

    13 July 2015
    Other news

    Calling it an issue America can’t afford to ignore, President Barack Obama laid out an expansive vision for fixing the criminal justice system. “In far too many cases, the punishment simply doesn’t fit the crime,” Obama told a crowd of 3,300 in Philadelphia. Low-level drug dealers, for example, owe a debt to society, but not a life sentence or 20-year prison term, he said. The United States needed to reevaluate an “aspect of American life that remains particularly skewed by race and by wealth.” Working in Obama’s favor: tentative but optimistic signs of common ground between Republicans and Democrats. (See also: President Obama for the prisoners)

  16. Drugs mule terms cut in new sentencing guidelines

    24 January 2012
    Other news

    People who smuggle drugs will face more lenient sentences if they have been exploited, under new guidelines. The change in approach on "drug mules" forms part of new comprehensive rules on drugs offences from the Sentencing Council for England and Wales. The council said judges should distinguish between those who have been exploited by gangs and criminals heavily involved in the drugs trade. But it said large-scale drugs producers should expect longer jail terms.

  17. The war on the truth about drugs

    24 January 2012
    Other news

    What's the smallest unit of celebration? A whooplet? I need one to mark the news that sentencing for drug offences, in some cases, will be shortened. Following new guidelines from the sentencing council from the end of February those found to have bought drugs to share with friends rather than to profit from them, and those found to have imported drugs under duress, can expect to be locked up slightly less often, and for slightly less long.

  18. Drug guidelines suggest lighter sentences for 'social dealers'

    24 January 2012
    Other news

    Recreational drug users who naively buy small quantities to share with their friends could avoid jail under sentencing guidelines for drug offences. The sentencing council also spells out explicitly, for the first time, that the medical use of cannabis for serious conditions should be recognised by the courts as a mitigating factor when sentencing offenders. The official guidance for the courts, which comes into force next month, also recommends a less draconian approach to the sentencing of "drug mules". (See also: Response from IDPC to the Sentencing Council for England and Wales Consultation on the Drug Offences Guideline)

  19. Improving community health and safety in Canada through evidence-based policies on illegal drugs

    • Evan Wood, Moira McKinnon, Robert Strang, Perry R. Kendall
    28 March 2012

    The use of illegal drugs remains a serious threat to community health. However, despite the substantial social costs attributable to illegal drugs, a well-described discordance between scientific evidence and policy exists in this area, such that most resources go to drug law enforcement activities that have not been well evaluated. When the Office of the Auditor General of Canada last reviewed the country’s drug strategy, in 2001, it estimated that of the $454 million spent annually on efforts to control illicit drugs, $426 million (93.8%) was devoted to law enforcement.

     

  20. Alternatives to Imprisonment

    • Karen Gelb
    01 April 2011

    The Sentencing Advisory Council has released a report on community attitudes towards the use of alternatives to imprisonment in Victoria. The report is based on the Victorian component of a national survey of public attitudes to sentencing, supported by the Australian Research Council. Survey participants were asked about the use of alternatives to imprisonment as a way of addressing the increasing number of people in prison and as a way of dealing with certain types of offenders. The prison alternatives suggested to participants included supervision, counselling, treatment and community work.

     

     

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