Thursday, April 28, 2022
"Decriminalization as Police Reform"
As mentioned in a prior post, the tail end of a busy semester means I can now catch up on posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. Excitingly, this year we opened up this platform to papers submitted by students not from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and we were able to add this paper that has the title of this post and is authored by Marcus Brown of University of North Carolina School of Law. Here is the abstract of this paper:
Proponents of drug decriminalization typically emphasize the reform’s utilitarian potential to reverse mass incarceration trends, reduce racial disparities within the justice system, and minimize the economic costs associated with drug enforcement. However, decriminalization has an additional, underappreciated potential to shift drug war-centered policing practices. This article details how recent decriminalization legislation in New York, Oregon, and Colorado limits police authority to expand stops, conduct searches and make arrests for drug possession. It also describes how drug decriminalization reduces police department incentives to conduct pretextual stops and militarize its personnel and divisions. Thus, drug decriminalization should also be understood as a vital tool in limiting intrusive policing practices. Including this perspective amongst the arguments for drug decriminalization strengthens the potential for substantive reform and may increase support for further legislation.