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43 items
  1. Bolivia in urgent need of a drug law reform

    Pien Metaal
    30 September 2010
    Article

    Almost 75 percent of the prison population in Bolivia remains in jails without a sentence. One third of the inmates are incarcerated due to the draconian character of Bolivian drug law, Law 1008 (Ley 1008). Although Evo Morales’ government announced that it would modify the law, the modifications have been centered around the regulation of coca cultivations, not on the tremendous repercussions of the law on the prison situation and the criminal justice system.

  2. Drug Laws and Prisons in Mexico

    03 December 2010

    Mexico is currently undergoing one of the worst crises in its history in terms of violence and insecurity. This crisis is directly related to the strengthening of organized crime in Mexico associated with drug trafficking, the divisions within the leading drug trafficking cartels, and their diversification. All this has resulted in a bloody struggle to control the key markets for the trafficking routes. The response of the Calderón administration has been a “war on organized crime” with two key elements: the growing use of the armed forces in public security tasks, and legal reforms aimed at more effectively fighting organized crime and, in particular, those involved in the trafficking, commerce, and supply of drugs.

     

  3. Drug Laws and Prisons in Argentina

    03 December 2010

    Within the international drugs market, Argentina is a “trans-shipment” country for cocaine. Recent decades have seen an increase in the consumption of narcotic and psychotropic substances in the country, and in recent years laboratories for the production of cocaine hydrochloride, though not on the scale of those in Colombia, Peru, or Bolivia, have begun to appear. The laws designed to prosecute drug crimes have failed to reduce the scale of trafficking and have resulted instead in the imprisonment of people in vulnerable situations.

     

  4. Drug Laws and Prisons in Ecuador

    03 December 2010

    Ecuador was never a significant center of production or traffic of illicit drugs; nor has it ever experienced the social convulsions that can result from the existence of a dynamic domestic drug market. While Ecuador has become an important transit country for illicit drugs and precursor chemicals and for money laundering, the illicit drug trade has not been perceived as a major threat to the country’s national security. However, for nearly two decades, Ecuador has had one of the most draconian drug laws in Latin America.

     

  5. Drug Laws and Prisons in Uruguay

    07 December 2010

    Uruguay has one of the most advanced drug policies on the continent. In Uruguay, the law does not criminalize drug use or possession of drugs for personal use. In addition, in recent years its national drug policies have prioritized the prosecution of medium and large-scale traffickers rather than focusing resources and energy on small-time dealers who are easily replaced. This country study examines the scope of the legislation, the policies developed and how the normative and policy frameworks find expression in Uruguay’s prison system, with a special focus on the population incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

     

  6. Drug Laws and Prisons in Bolivia

    03 December 2010

    Bolivia’s participation in the international drug-trafficking circuit was determined by a series of factors, ranging from the ancestral tradition of growing and consuming coca leaf, to the endemic poverty of the population (per capita GDP is less than US$ 1,000) and the structural weakness of state institutions.

     

  7. Drug Laws and Prisons in Brazil

    03 December 2010

    The number of people imprisoned for drug offenses in Brazil has increased over the last 20 years, but this has not affected the availability or consumption of drugs. The study also shows that those who are locked up for drug offenses are mainly small-scale dealers who represent the lowest links in drug distribution operations, and not the large-scale wholesale traffickers who dominate the country’s illicit drug trafficking trade.

     

  8. Drug Laws and Prisons in Colombia

    03 December 2010

    During the 20th century, drug policies in Colombia were increasingly repressive, largely ineffective, and heavily influenced by the international legal framework that was put in place. In effect, in just a few years Colombia went from having a scattered set of regulations, with an emphasis on prevention and medical-administrative treatment, to having legislation abundant in definitions of criminal conduct and sanctions that included the full drug cycle, from production through marketing and trafficking to consumption.

     

  9. Drug Laws and Prisons in Peru

    07 December 2010

    Peru is a major world producer of coca leaf and its derivatives. Since the year 2000, successive Peruvian administrations have followed a drug policy focused on supply reduction through interdiction and eradication strategies. The law on drugs does not punish drug use or drug possession for personal use by imprisonment. Nonetheless, the Peruvian authorities treat drug use as if it were criminal conduct. As a result, the police are overwhelmed, trials are delayed, and the prisons are filled.

     

  10. Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

    09 December 2010

    An unprecedented one-year comparative study of the drug laws and prison systems in eight Latin American countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay – was released on Thursday, December 9, 2010, during a conference with high-level policy analysts and the study's country-researchers at the Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

  11. 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.

  12. Latin America drug laws 'worsen prison overcrowding'

    10 December 2010
    Article

    Drug laws in eight Latin American countries have exacerbated their prison overcrowding problems and failed to curb trafficking, a study says.

    The Transnational Institute and the Washington Office on Latin America say most of those convicted are not high or medium-level drug traffickers.

    Imprisoning minor offenders is "useless", as they are easily replaced by the bosses at the top, they warn.

  13. A breakthrough in the making?

    • Amira Armenta, Pien Metaal, Martin Jelsma
    25 June 2012

    Remarkable drug policy developments are taking place in Latin America. This is not only at the level of political debate, but is also reflected in actual legislative changes in a number of countries. All in all there is an undeniable regional trend of moving away from the ‘war on drugs’. This briefing ex­plains the background to the opening of the drug policy debate in the region, summa­rises the most relevant aspects of the on­going drug law reforms in some countries, and makes a series of recommendations that could help to move the debate forward in a productive manner.

     

  14. Major Study on Drugs Laws and Prisons in Latin America to be Released

    29 November 2010
    Press release

    An unprecedented one-year comparative study of the drug laws and prison systems in eight Latin American countries - Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay - will be released on December 9, 2010, by the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).

    Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America is the first major study to explore the way drug laws have contributed to prison overcrowding, analyze who is imprisoned on drug charges, and evaluate the impact of incarceration on people's lives, their families and their communities. Based on the available data, each country-study presents and analyzes statistics on the situation in the prisons, including levels of over-crowding; the percentage of prisoners behind bars on drug charges; the percentage of those who are consumers, low-level offenders or bigger traffickers; and the level of involvement in the drug trade of those in jail.

  15. Reimagining Drug Policy in the Americas

    27 June 2014

    Latin America is now at the vanguard of international efforts to promote drug policy reform: Bolivia has rewritten its constitution to recognize the right to use the coca leaf for traditional and legal purposes, Uruguay has become the first nation in the world to adopt a legal, regulated Cannabis market, and Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, and Ecuador are openly critiquing the prevailing international drug control paradigm at the UN. And now with the United States itself relaxing its marijuana laws state by state, the U.S. prohibitionist drug war strategies are losing credibility in the region.

     

  16. Drugs and Prisons in Uruguay

    17 July 2012
    Multi-media

    When she was 66 years old, Alicia Castilla was put in jail for three months for cultivating marijuana, which she used to help her sleep better. In this video testimony, she talks about the suffering caused by her imprisonment in Canelones (an Uruguayan prison) and her experience with the justice system in Uruguay.

  17. Study reveals alarming pattern in imprisonment for drug crimes in Latin America

    09 December 2010
    Article

    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 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 study Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America, published today 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.

  18. Drugs and prisons in Brazil

    09 December 2010
    Multi-media

    In Brazil, possession of drugs for personal consumption is punished with educational measures and community service, not prison. In this video, a young man tells of the disparity in sentencing between the wealthy and the poor.

  19. Drugs and prisons in Bolivia

    09 December 2010
    Article

    Bolivia has announced its intention to reform its drug law (Law 1008), which has been criticized for resulting in sentences that are disproportionate to the crimes committed. But nothing has happened.

  20. 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.

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