Welcome to the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. We work for an honest, fair and efficient criminal justice system.

Areas of Impact

The United States is at a crossroads in its drug policy. Over the past half century, in our effort to quell the drug trade, we have stepped up border security, increased arrests and lengthened sentences for drug offenses, stripped away various rights of drug offenders, introduced drug testing in our nation's schools and workplaces and poured billions of dollars into overseas anti-drug paramilitary operations that commit violent human rights abuses. Over the past forty years, we have spent over a trillion dollars on drug law enforcement, arrested over 40 million Americans, created the largest prison population in the world, defoliated over a million acres of land in Colombia alone, and created economies that sustain gang and cartel turf wars that have claimed thousands of lives in the U.S. and tens of thousands in Mexico. Yet the availability and purity of drugs have steadily increased, hundreds of thousands of Americans remain ensnared in addiction, and people wanting help becoming sober cannot get appropriate treatment.

Increasingly, the American people are recognizing that by attempting to control the drug market through force, prohibition and incarceration, our policies have created a more efficient drug trade and a hugely profitable drug market. Every comprehensive conversation about the problems of violence, poverty, race, health, education achievement and opportunity, community development, the environment, civil liberties and terrorism now recognizes the significant contribution of the illegal drug market to the seriousness of the problem. Thus, many in America are now rethinking our drug goals and devising a new strategy.

Do we now change direction and adopt a new, sensible drug policy that, among other things, acknowledges the differences between drugs and treats different drugs in the most appropriate way, or do we continue along the path set decades ago in an absence of scientific evidence, to fulfill partisan and personal political ambitions, and that exploited exaggerated fears? To support a well-designed change of direction, we provide specific policy-related information on each of the following drugs: marijuana (including medical marijuana), heroin and other opiates, crack cocaine and alcohol.

We also discuss areas of the criminal justice system tightly linked to drug policy that are in great need of reform: mandatory minimums, prosecutorial overreach, civil asset forfeiture and clemency.