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Drug Policy and the Criminal Justice System

No issue has had more impact on the criminal justice system in the past two decades than national drug policy. The "war on drugs" that was declared in the early 1980s has been a primary contributor to the enormous growth of the prison system in the United States since that time and has affected all aspects of the criminal justice system. As a response to the problem of drug abuse, national drug policies have emphasized punishment over treatment and have had a disproportionate impact on low-income communities and minorities.

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