Drug war increases crime. This is the hypothesis of Bruce Benson,
professor of economics at Florida State University, who spoke to
students about the drug war Wednesday in Knauss Hall.

Benson provided data which pointed to the emphasis on the war on drugs
program during Reagan's administration in the 1980s as the leading
cause in a substantial increase in non-drug related crime. His lecture
was founded on the economic principles of scarcity and competition for
allocation of resources and focused on the '80s -- the time when he
said the drug war was born.

Benson hypothesizes that tough drug enforcement laws are pulling police
resources away from other types of crime and in effect have increased
crime rates in other areas, particularly in the area of property crime
such as burglary.

"At least 50 percent of property crime increase was due to a shift out
of property crime control to drug control," Benson said.

Former President Reagan made the war on drugs a priority in 1982, but
Benson's data shows arrests did not rocket upward until 1984. State and
local law enforcement did not have incentive to re-allocate their
resources to fight a war on drugs until a new law provided a solution
in 1984.

"The crime bill contained one section that mandated any assets seized
in a drug investigation could be shared amongst federal, state and
local law agencies," Benson said. "Police have strong incentive now to
fight the war."

Benson provided data illustrating the monumental increase in the ratio
between drug arrests and other arrests between the years of 1984-1989
since the federal mandate took effect. According to Benson, there was
one drug arrest for every 25 non-drug arrests between 1945-1965. In
contrast, between 1985-1989 the ratio increased to one drug arrest for
every 2.2 non-drug arrests.

"There was an 875 percent increase in drug arrests between 1984 and
1989," Benson said. "The drug war has had a dramatic impact on the
criminal justice system and the prisons were not equipped to handle

The data revealed that more drug-related arrests occur in states with
laws allowing the police to keep assets in drug seizures, highlighting
one of the most controversial and scandalous aspects of the war on
drugs. Benson shared stories of racial profiling and unnecessary search
and seizure taking place because of the federal mandate.

"Some argue that drugs cause crime; our evidence suggests that drug
enforcement increases crime," Benson said. "If the federal government
would get out of the marijuana game and leave it to state and local
government, that would be a step in the right direction."

Date: Fri, 08 Nov 2002
cannabisnews.com: Drug War Causes More Crime
November 07, 2002 at 15:10:14 PT
By Sarah Bolen, News Writer
Source: Western Herald
Top Bottom