CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, June 24, 2024

Hill on Abolition of Drug Crimes

Sean Hill (The Ohio State Moritz College of Law) has posted Drug Crimes: The Case for Abolition (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Nonwhite communities experience higher rates of arrest, prosecution, and incarceration than white communities for drug offenses, and these disparities have persisted even in the wake of decriminalization and legalization. Although a diverse array of political stakeholders increasingly agree that drug policies should be reformed, they are nearly unanimous in their opposition to abolition. While select drug crimes may be worthy of reduced punishment or conversion into civil offenses, these stakeholders contend that the abolition of criminal institutions will inevitably jeopardize public safety. This Article challenges the widespread presumption that drug law and policy correlates with the protection of the public. Drug crimes are, instead, an essential vehicle for the subordination of nonwhite people and for the misallocation of resources across racial groups.
Part I of the article contests the presumed correlation between illicit drugs and violence and illuminates how drug criminalization erodes individual and collective safety. Part II addresses how drug policy sustains white and American hegemony, respectively, by legitimating racist ideologies and by justifying force against marginalized people both in and outside of the country's borders. Finally, Part III explains how abolition represents a viable path away from the harms of prohibitionist policies.

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