Exploding Prison Populations and Drug Offenders: Rethinking State Drug Sentencing

Call for Papers:

Frequently, state sentencing approaches to drug offenses fail to distinguish between serious traffickers and low-level violators. For example, in Indiana, a person selling $40 worth of crack cocaine faces the same sentence (i.e., 20 to 50 years in prison) as a major drug dealer. Indiana’s framework presents an extreme example of this phenomenon, but Indiana is not alone in its approach; many other states are experiencing unintended consequences of similar policies.  Long-term sentences for low-level drug offenders have contributed to the exponential growth in many states’ prison populations. Frequently, commentators question whether the expenses of this non-differentiating methodology are warranted in human and other costs. Among other topics, the conference will examine (1) whether the current system can be justified; (2) the deterrent effect on drug usage of long-term incarceration and widespread imprisonment; and, (3) whether the likelihood of apprehension and conviction affects the market for drugs. Submissions relating to drug sentencing are welcomed, especially submissions on the following subjects:

  • The costs and benefits to taxpayers of incarcerating low-level drug offenders
  • The impact of drug sentencing laws on minority groups and other affected communities
  • Whether the science of addiction can inform decisions regarding optimal responses to drug use and sales
  • Legislative approaches to the challenges of incarceration for drug offenses

Selected conference papers will be published in a special issue of the Valparaiso University Law Review.  To submit a paper for presentation at the conference, please provide an abstract of you work by email submission no later than Monday, August 27, 2012.  It should be addressed to Melissa Mundt, Associate Director of Academic Services, Valparaiso University Law at Melissa.Mundt@valpo.edu.

Contact Information:

Melissa Mundt
Associate Director of Academic Services
Valparaiso University Law
Melissa.Mundt@valpo.edu

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