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  1. Deadly Chile prison fire puts heat on Latin America's crowded jails

    By Steven Bodzin, Sara Miller Llana
    29 December 2010
    In the media

    The Chile fire, started by rioting prisoners, has drawn fresh attention to the poor conditions, lack of guards, and gang violence rampant in Latin American jails.

  2. 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.

     

     

  3. Cannabis social club activists in Spain liberated

    Tom Blickman
    22 November 2011
    Article

    Cultivation and consumption of cannabis is decriminalised to an extent but lack of guidelines causes rogue social clubs to undermine the success of self-regulated social clubs. The result; an unwarranted arrest of three Pannagh activists. 

  4. Towards Effective Sentencing

    22 July 2008

    The purpose of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in the United Kingdom was to provide overall structure and clarity to sentencing in England and Wales by reserving prison for the most dangerous offenders, while moving lower level offenders away from short prison sentences into robust and rehabilitative community punishments.

     

  5. Drug Decriminalization: A Trend Takes Shape

    Coletta Youngers, John Walsh
    21 September 2009
    Article

    The trend of "drug decriminalization" is quickly taking shape in Latin America. Increasingly, many countries are leaning toward decriminalization as an alternative approach, hoping that it will be effective both in reducing consumption and dealing with associated health problems.

  6. A Matter of Substance

    • Ernestien Jensema
    26 July 2010

    This paper discusses the “substance-oriented approach” Dutch authorities implemented to to scare off potential small-scale cocaine smugglers. The focus was on the drugs, rather than the couriers, and on incapacitating the smuggling route, rather than deterrence by incarceration.

     

  7. The Death Penalty for Drug Offences

    • Patrick Gallahue, Ricky Gunawan, Fifa Rahman, Karim El Mufti, Najam U Din, Rita Felten
    19 November 2012

    Executions for drug offences have escalated in countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia against a trend towards abolition globally, reveals a new Harm Reduction International (HRI) report The Death Penalty for Drug Offences, Global Overview 2012: Tipping the Scales for Abolition. The report reveals that over 540 people were executed for drug offences in Iran in 2011, a trend that continues in 2012 and represents a five-fold increase since 2008. At least 16 people were executed for drugs in Saudi Arabia in the first six months of 2012, compared with one person in 2011.

     

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. The injustice of marijuana arrests

    27 July 2014
    Other news

    America’s four-decade war on drugs is responsible for many casualties, but the criminalization of marijuana has been perhaps the most destructive part of that war. The toll can be measured in dollars — billions of which are thrown away each year in the aggressive enforcement of pointless laws. It can be measured in years — whether wasted behind bars or stolen from a child who grows up fatherless. And it can be measured in lives — those damaged if not destroyed by the shockingly harsh consequences that can follow even the most minor offenses.

  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 new drug warriors

    01 May 2015
    Other news

    The war on drugs is edging towards a truce. Half of Americans want to lift the ban on cannabis. America’s change of heart has led many to wonder if the UN conventions might be reformed to legalise some drugs and treat the use of others as a problem requiring health measures, not criminal or military ones. But as America has drawn back from prohibition, new drug warriors are stepping up to defend it. Russia is foremost among them. “The Russians have taken over the hard-line role that the US used to play,” says Martin Jelsma of the Transnational Institute.

  13. 2016: The UN's year to take on drugs

    26 April 2015
    Other news

    Global disagreement over drug policies provides an important opportunity to reconsider the effectiveness of existing counternarcotics policies, address their problematic side effects, and propose evidence-based alternative strategies. Because of the differences in attitudes on drug policy around the world, a substantial revision of existing counternarcotics treaties is unlikely at UNGASS 2016. (See also: Improving global drug policy: Comparative perspectives and UNGASS 2016)

  14. Pot Penalties May Be Modernized

    David Downs
    18 May 2011
    Other news

    Sponsored by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, AB 1017 aims to give prosecutors more discretion in how they charge weed growers and processors, called "trimmers." According to the bill's author, Mendocino County District Attorney C. David Eyster, mom-and-pop trimmers — many of them economically desperate victims of the country's recession — currently face a felony punishable by sixteen months, or two or three years in prison for manicuring buds. That's because existing law "requires that every person who plants, cultivates, harvests, dries, or processes any marijuana, or any part thereof, except as otherwise provided by law, be punished by imprisonment in the state prison."

  15. 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.

  16. Guatemala may weigh softer drug punishments in liberalization push

    14 October 2014
    Other news

    Guatemala will weigh easing punishments for minor narcotics-related offenses as part of a push to liberalize drug policy and explore regulating production of opium poppies and marijuana for medical use, President Otto Perez said. A government-backed commission delivered an interim report on the president's legalization proposal in September and Perez said the final recommendations should be ready by March or the second quarter of next year.

  17. 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.’"

  18. Latin America rethinks drug policies

    Icaria Editorial
    26 May 2015
    Other news

    During the 1980s and 1990s, as the United States battled the scourge of cocaine throughout the hemisphere, Washington did most of the talking.

  19. The punishment must fit the crime, even for drug users

    Gino Vumbaca
    02 November 2011
    Other news

    The case of the Australian boy arrested on drug charges in Bali offers the opportunity to review our nation's own response to drug use, both here and abroad. While empathy for the boy's family is warranted and genuine, the case should also raise the question of what would happen to someone in Australia caught with a similar small amount of cannabis or other illicit drug.

  20. New York police officers defy order to cut marijuana arrests

    29 March 2012
    Other news

    Police officers in New York are "manufacturing" criminal offenses by forcing people with small amounts of marijuana to reveal their drugs, according to a survey by public defenders. Nearly half of New Yorkers picked up for small amounts of marijuana possession in recent months were not displaying the drug before they were stopped, the study shows, despite an order by New York police chief Ray Kelly that officers should not charge people in such circumstances.

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