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Justice Policy Journal - Volume 18, Number 2 – Fall 2021


America’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act, the Disproportionality of Drug Laws on Blacks: A Policy Analysis

By: Latocia Keyes, Robert L. Bing III, and Vance D. Keyes

General William T. Sherman reportedly said war is hell. An immoral war is being waged by the United States. This war is not taking place in a foreign nation, but on American soil. Much like Sherman’s Civil War, the source of conflict concerns liberty and black skin. However, this war’s casualties are not measured in deaths alone but in numbers of arrests and convictions. The war on drugs taking place in the United States is a 50-year campaign that creates hellish conditions for African American men and women who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses. Using Segal’s model, we question the war on drugs, its rhetoric, and the continued national consequences as it rages unchecked. We challenge the legitimacy of policy that fuels the war on drugs and that reinforces racial hierarchies. African Americans are no more likely than white people to use drugs, yet they face a more punitive system of governance. We conclude that the war on drugs is racially unjust, imprisons hundreds of thousands of low-level, nonviolent drug offenders and erodes individuals, families, and neighborhoods. We suggest alternative policies and practices to facilitate the impartial treatment of all racial and ethnic groups.


Abolishing Consensus Criminology: Confronting the Human Nature Assumption and Ritual Criminologists

By: Jeffrey M. London, Emily I. Troshynski, and Gregory Panos

Before penal abolitionists can confront consensus criminologists head-on, penal abolitionists must first take time to understand the shaky foundation on which their theoretical adversaries stand. The consensus perspective of criminology unwittingly rests upon the often-overlooked assumption that humans are essentially immoral and lawless beings. This article argues that advocates of United States’ penal system utilize the underlying beliefs of original sin and total depravity to defend and perpetuate the existence of mass incarceration. The notion of original sin is the belief that Adam’s transgression against God left a hereditary stain on human nature that disordered our nature and bent it towards lawlessness. A parallel notion derives from the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. The notion of total depravity advances the argument of man’s essential wickedness by stating that humanity is not only “fallen” because of Adam’s original sin but is completely incapable of choosing good over evil and is catastrophically perverted. Given that the majority of America’s population ties itself to a church tradition that requires belief in innate human wickedness, this paper articulates the cultural uphill climb facing penal abolitionists.


Exploring Perceptions of Safety: Developing Safety and Support Measures to Assess Public Attitudes of Sex Offense Registration

By: Kristan Russell and William Evans

Sex offense registration and notification policies in the United States have developed through strong public support. Despite positive intentions, significant flaws in the current registration system have been identified. Due to their socially driven nature, examining public perceptions of safety and support for registration policies is needed. In a series of studies, we expand upon previous research by developing and validating two self-report scales that capture perceptions of safety related to sex offense registration and support for registration policies. We then employ these scales to determine if perceptions of safety and support can be modified by exposure to information regarding the costliness and ineffectiveness of registration systems. Results reveal that individuals’ sense of safety related to registries and their support for registries were reduced, at least in the short-term, when exposed to this information. Post-test findings, however, demonstrate that parents still were significantly more supportive of registries than non-parents. Results inform future research that seeks to examine potential alternatives to sex offense registration, despite ongoing public support for such policies.


Visitation Policies in Juvenile Residential Facilities in all 50 States

By: Brae Campion Young, Nicole L. Collier, and Samantha J. Brown

Visitation programs have almost always existed within correctional facilities, and for good reason. Prior research suggests that visits generally benefit incarcerated persons, including incarcerated youth. Unfortunately, though, the visitation experience varies and some youth ultimately benefit less from visits than others. One reason for such variation is the toll that visits take on visitors. Indeed, visits can be quite a stressful experience for the visitors as they have to navigate numerous and restrictive policies in order to visit. Questions exist, though, about what visitation policies look like on a national scale, particularly for juvenile facilities. Against this backdrop, the current study highlights the various visitation policies governing juvenile correctional facilities across all 50 states and Washington DC. Furthermore, this paper identifies implications of visitation policy changes made in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. 


Focused Deterrence and Social Service Provision: Avenues for Future Research

By: Dominic Zicari

Focused deterrence is a policing strategy that offers an incredibly unique solution to violent crime. In addition to heightened sanctions and other traditional deterrence techniques, these interventions make use of positive incentives by providing high-risk offenders with access to social services. However, this aspect of focused deterrence has been largely overlooked in the literature. This paper provides a closer look at the social service component of the focused deterrence model, arguing that positive incentives and their relationship with crime must be examined more rigorously. Potential theoretical explanations for this relationship are discussed, as well as possibilities for future research. This is directed towards facilitating a more complete understanding of both the focused deterrence model broadly and the provision of social services in particular.

Keywords: jail visitation, social services, war on drugs

Posted in Volume 18

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