Cover: Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences

Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences

Throwing Away the Key or the Taxpayers' Money?

Published 1997

by Jonathan P. Caulkins, C. Peter Rydell, William Schwabe, James Chiesa

Download

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 7.5 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Purchase

Purchase Print Copy

 Format Price
Add to Cart Paperback224 pages $40.00

Laws requiring minimum sentences for certain crimes have become increasingly popular, and the most frequently applied of these mandatory minimums are those pertaining to drug offenders. Proponents and opponents of mandatory minimums generally argue over issues of punishment, deterrence, justice, and fairness. The authors of the current study examine mandatory minimum drug sentences from the viewpoint of cost-effectiveness at achieving such national drug control objectives as reducing cocaine consumption and cocaine-related crime. They conduct their analysis with the help of mathematical models estimating the response of cocaine supply and demand to changes in levels of enforcement and treatment. The authors find that a million dollars spent extending sentences to mandatory minimum lengths would reduce cocaine consumption less than would a million dollars spent on the pre-mandatory-minimum mix of arrests, prosecution, and sentencing. Neither would reduce cocaine consumption or cocaine-related crime as much as spending a million dollars treating heavy users. These conclusions are robust to changes in various assumptions underlying the analysis.

This research was supported by a gift from Richard B. Wolf of Richland Mills and by funding from The Ford Foundation. This study was carried out within RAND's Drug Policy Research Center.

This report is part of the RAND monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.