Law Enforcement's Role in a Harm Reduction Regime

Published in: Crime and Justice Bulletin, no. 64, Jan. 2002, p. 1-11

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2001

by Jonathan P. Caulkins

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Law enforcement can play a valuable role within a harm reduction paradigm, but this possibility is often overlooked. This paper reviews a framework for thinking about harm reduction goals, and illustrates how some harm reduction perspectives are more receptive than others to a prominent law enforcement role. Five specific roles for law enforcement are then outlined: partnerships with treatment and other interventions, constraining supply, time-focused intervention early in an epidemic, reducing control costs and associated harms, and exploiting drug markets' inherent adaptability.

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