Criminological Theories

Crime is a very complex phenomenon that has fascinated psychologists for centuries.  In an attempt to explain why individuals follow a deviant and corrupted path experts refer to various theories that can be intertwined and provide insight into the criminal mind.  Theorists believe criminal activity can be linked to one’s genetics, social ties or upbringing, and our deep subconscious.  This paper will review the biological, sociological, and psychological theories of crime causation and describe how it affects human behavior and actions.

A common assumption of biological theories of crime, are that genetics and physical traits play a leading role in one initiating deviant behavior.  In the earlier years of the biological theories, it was suggested that criminal traits were hereditary and passed down from parent to child.  In 1876 Lombroso, an Italian physician claimed criminals are born and were identified with certain physical traits or abnormalities, such as large ears, flattened nose, odd shaped skull, and insensitivity to pain. (Ford, 2013) Individuals with these traits could not resist bad behavior that lead to criminal activity.  In the early 1900’s Sheldon, an American psychologist expanded on Lombroso’s study and concluded that the size and shape of the human body can lead one to deviance.  Specifically, an individual whom is muscular and athletic or portrays an hourglass figure.  There is also the theory that suggests criminals have an extra Y chromosome, giving them an XYY chromosome makeup that possess them to commit crimes. In an attempt to study the relationship between hereditary and crime further, psychologists conducted studies of children that were adopted at a very young age that had no contact with their biological parents and the correlation of criminal activity.  The study included children with criminal biological parents and non-criminal biological parents.  Schulsinger conducted this study in the early 70’s and concluded that only 3.9% of the children with criminal biological parents displayed criminal traits and tendencies, compared to 1.4% of children that had non-criminal biological parents.  (Walters & White, 1989)  In 2007,

Abdelmalek Bayout, an Algerian citizen, who was living in Italy admitted to murder of another citizen.  After in depth testing it was suggested that abnormalities of the brain in which five genes were hosted that contained violent tendencies that led Bayout to murder.  (Feresin, 2009)  The biological theories have come under much scrutiny, as they hold no predictive qualities, because many individuals with attributes that are considered criminal traits do not actually become criminals in life.

The sociological theories justify criminal behavior while focusing primarily on social influences, such as culture, peers, environment, and upbringing when considering the cause of deviant and criminal acts.  Robert Agnew, a social theorist suggested individuals act out in response to a social frustration, commonly known as the strain theory.  They may engage in bad behavior to reduce the stress they are experiencing, such as commit a robbery to ease the stress of financial difficulty or become violent in order to work through suffered harassment.    Individuals also, learn to engage in criminal acts from their social network and peer influences.  Through social learning the crime becomes a desirable act and is justifiable based on the beliefs of the group. Young people are easily exposed to criminal behavior through gang initiations and other close knit groups that have learned no boundaries or respect for the law.  A juvenile may also engage in criminal acts based on observations from a group, media, or even a video game.  Young people are more likely to engage in criminal acts if they are likely to receive a reinforcement, such as social status, financial reward, or increased pleasure.  Negative reinforcement, such as a threat or punishment is also a driven factor that leads to deviant behavior.  In most cases the individual is seeking out approval or attention in some manner from peers, family, or teachers.

Sociological theories also allude that an individual that has been the victim or witness to crimes including, but not limited to neglect, child abuse, alcoholism, or selling drugs are more likely the criminal behavior at some point in their life.  The ability to decipher what is right or wrong has been tainted and the criminal life becomes a norm within the culture and society of the individual.  (Byrne, 2011)  Albert Bandura conducted a social learning study, famously known as the Bobo doll experiment.  He monitored the response of children as the observed a video of a model aggressively interacting with the same doll.  In the video the model hit the doll, beat it with a hammer, kicked it, and shouted erroneous phrases. (Lee, 2013) When the children were invited to the play room without receiving further instruction they began to reenact the same aggressive behavior towards the doll that was observed in the video.  This study supports observational and social learning, which contributes to bad behavior being learned and accepted by the individual.  As goes the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out.”  Ted Bundy, an American serial killer is a prime example for biological theory of crime causation.  As a young child he clung to his grandfather, a man who was a bigot with strong racist beliefs, abused and beat his wife, tortured cats, and was aggressive towards Bundy’s aunt as a young girl.  Ted’s grandfather acted out with violent rage.   Ted Bundy exhibited similar traits at a very young age in life and it was believed that the violent tendencies were learned from his grandfather.  He was disconnected from a parent child bond with his mother as he grew up thinking his mom was his sister.  He was anti-social and suffered a lack of control of his rage.  (Bio, 2013)  Psychological theories of crime causation emphasize the developments from childhood to adulthood of personality traits and defects that contribute to criminal acts. In order to explain criminal behavior, analysts have connected crime to personality traits and have reverted to labeling.  We look for certain characteristics in one’s personality, such as anti-social defects and associate those characteristics with deviance or psychotic behavior.  The level of intelligence can also play a role in the criminal mind, but is considered a negative correlation and is not a reliable factor.  Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed violent behavior was “the product of “unconscious” forces operating within a person’s mind.” (Ministry of Children and Youth Services, 2010)  Freud claimed that all human beings are born with natural instincts with the desire to satisfy their need for food, shelter, and pleasure.  These instincts are what drive us and are house deep within our unconscious.  It is because of these natural instincts to survive and meet our needs that he believes all humans have criminal tendencies.  Humans will do what they must to survive, without thinking of the altercations.  Freud’s theory suggests there are three levels to our unconscious and they are grouped as the ID, Ego and Superego.  Our Id is the biological, inherited, and unconscious source for our sexual drives and irrational impulses.  The Ego is influenced by non-biological extremities both social and family related that has brought on the basic developmental functions.    A child that has not had the opportunity to socialize starting at a young age may develop a personality disturbance which will cause him or her to have strong antisocial impulses.  They have trouble connecting with other kids their age and the awkwardness and feeling of being unaccepted directs the child to act out in negative ways that are not deemed a social norm or lawful.  Parental involvement is also considered to impact the development of a child mentally and socially.  A child that is disconnected from a parent may have trouble connecting with the world around them and leave them with no regard for the law; where as a child that has been nurtured and loved will grow up to be a caring and respectful citizen.  In a recent case reported by ABA Journal (Hansen, 2006), Dennis Rader, a well-respected man and a deacon at his church is also a well-known serial killer in Wichita Kansas in which he killed ten people.  His serial killer desires were deeply imbedded unconsciously and were triggered when he was denied a law enforcement officer position.  His aggression and extreme impulsive desires controlled his unconscious and forced him into a sadistic and heinous world.

Theorists are driven to understand the causation of crime in individuals.  Having a better understanding and the ability to justify the deviant desires will give criminal justice professional the opportunity to rehabilitate criminals and reduce crime.  The behavioral, social, and psychological theories attempt to explain individual causes, but do not provide concrete explanations and are a source of blame for one’s choices and actions.

References:

Ford M.D., R. (2013, September 16). Biological and Psychological Theories of Crime. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~cjreg/NCbiological.htm

Walters, G., & White, T. (1989, November 3). HEREDITY AND CRIME: BAD GENES OR BAD RESEARCH. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://faculty.uml.edu/jbyrne/heredityandcrime.pdf

Byrne. (2011, October 1). Sociological Theories of Sociological Theories of Crime Causation. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://faculty.uml.edu/jbyrne/44.521/documents/SociologicalTheoriesofCrimeCausation-2_000.pdf

Lee, D. (2013, June 16). Bobo Doll. Retrieved June 19, 2015, from http://www.personal.psu.edu/bfr3/blogs/asp/2013/06/bobo-doll.html

Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Reviews. (2010, April 27). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/youthandthelaw/roots/volume5/chapter02_psychological_theories.aspx

Hansen, M. (2006, April 21). How the Cops Caught BTK. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/how_the_cops_caught_btk

Ted Bundy. (2013). Retrieved June 24, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/ted-bundy-9231165#an-unexpected-killer

Feresin, E. (2009, October 30). Lighter sentence for murderer with ‘bad genes’ Retrieved June 20, 2015, from http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091030/full/news.2009.1050.html

The Need for Additional Border Patrol in the United States- Research Methods

Abstract

Border Patrol has become an increasingly hot topic in the United States.  The borders that separate Mexico and the state of Texas are in need of additional border patrol officers, as illegal immigrants are now on the rise.  Texans believe increased border patrol is a necessity to keep their communities and the country safe.  Thus, this true classical design will test whether adding border patrol officer will have an effect on the passage of illegal immigrants into the United States.  Twelve of the twenty six border crossings in Texas will be randomly selected and will be tested for a 6 month span.   The border crossings in the experimental group will be given additional border patrol officers while the border crossings in the control group will remain with no change in number of border patrol officers.  To determine if the illegal immigrant numbers are affected by the additional border patrol officers, the numbers for both groups will be measured at the beginning of the experiment and after the test is completed and statistical data recorded and published by the Border Patrol Agency.

The need for additional Border Patrol in America

Illegal immigration and customs violations are becoming an increasing issue along the borders of the United States of America.  There is much controversy among government officials, with great concern of the vulnerability of America to “the enemy,” such as ISIS.  Enforcing immigration regulations has been an ongoing issue since the beginning of the twentieth century.  This proposal will identify the challenges with open borders and the inspections that are performed on people and goods entering and leaving the United States.

Review of Literature:

 

            Chad C Haddal (2010) a specialist in Immigration Policy of the United States of America described border patrol as the first line of defense against unauthorized migration into America.  Haddal also stated that America is vulnerable due to the lack of legislative funding and border patrol officers.  Haddal (2010) reports in 2010 agencies requested $297 million that would be used to hire 1,000 new Border Patrol agents, $37 million for two new unmanned aerial detection systems, $53 million for 160 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, $6.5 million for 30 new Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers, and $6 million for 20 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) canine teams to improve border enforcement operations along the Southwest border.  There is a strong desire for additional border patrol agents along Mexico and other bordering regions of America.

The Department of Homeland Security (2015) argues that despite the efforts of the agencies responsible for custom check points they remain ineffective without the border enforcement between inspection points.  As the threats become greater, the Department of Homeland Security is trying to get a grip on the issue of illegal immigrants crossing over the borders.  American border patrol has come far from the Mounted Guards assigned to inspection stations yet, the ability to patrol large vast of land are still a concern

Recently there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children migrating over the border in Texas.  Texas Border Patrol agents are limited and cannot keep watch over the large spans of land.  They are in dire need of Federal assistance.  According to news reporter Hannah Fraser-Chanpong of CBS News (2014) Texas has detained over 500 illegals and apprehended as many as 1,400 people a day.  Many of the illegals that came over the border were unaccompanied children.  Another issue that has been brought up to the government and US citizens is the threat of terrorists crossing the borders of Texas.

Recently James O’ Keefe an American filmmaker demonstrated how easy it is for a terrorist to cross over into America from the Mexican border.  In the video O’Keefe crosses over to Texas in a costume that resembles Osama Bin Laden.  No one stopped him, because there was no patrol man in sight for miles.  “I see no border patrol. I see no security,” O’Keefe (2014) said in the video before donning a bin Laden mask. O’Keefe (2014) continued, “Thousands of people have stood in my footsteps right now. They’ve come from South America, Honduras, Guatemala, and they’ve all crossed the border. And if they can cross, anybody can cross.”

There is a commonality in the arguments shared, America is vulnerable to illegal migration and terrorist threats unless there is increased funding in the border patrol and customs agencies.  By adding border patrol and customs officers the entryways to America along bordering countries will be protected and secured.  Additional patrols will put a stop to illegal drug cartels and other dangers coming into the country.

Problem, Theory, Variables, and Hypothesis:

Problem Statement:  The lack of border patrol agents leaves the borders open and vulnerable to illegal migration and terrorist threats.

Theory:   By adding additional border patrol agents, America’s borders will be more secure and will see a dramatic decrease in illegal immigrant’s crossing over onto American soil.

Independent Variable: 1,000 Border Patrol Officers

Indicator: 1,000 Border Patrol Officers

Dependent Variable:  Illegal Immigrants

Hypothesis:  Border Patrol that add an additional 1,000 Border Patrol Officers are less likely to have illegal immigrants than Border Patrol that do not add an additional 1,000 additional Border Patrol Officers.
Population / Sample:

The population for this proposal is 26 border crossings in the great state of Texas, in which illegal immigrants are utilizing to cross over into the United States of America.  The agency has a master list of the 26 border crossings along Mexico and Texas, so a probability sampling strategy will be utilized for this proposal.  This proposal will explicitly use a simple random sample of 12 border crossings from the master list of 26 border crossings will be used (6 for the experimental group and 6 for the control group) will be tested.

 

Research Design:

True classical design would be best suited for further research into the study of the effects of additional border patrol agents along the borders or America.  By randomly placing an additional 1,000 border patrol agents along America’s borders researchers will collect valuable information that will aide in identifying the additions as a valid solution to tightening up the security along open borders.

 

           

           

 

Data Collection:

 

Existing data will be collected for this proposal.  By utilizing reports measuring the number of illegal immigrants crossing the borders versus the number of border patrol officers it is easy to determine the areas that are weakest and need more coverage.  Statistical data reflecting the number of illegal immigrants will be measured before the experiment and 6 months after the experiment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

 

Haddal, C. (2010, August 11). Border Security: The Role of the U.S. Border Patrol. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL32562.pdf

Department of Homeland Security. (2015, January 1). Border Patrol History. Retrieved February 7, 2015, from http://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/history

FRASER-CHANPONG, H. (2014, June 19). Surge in unaccompanied immigrant children pushes Texas border patrol to its limits. Retrieved February 6, 2015, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/surge-in-unaccompanied-immigrant-children-pushes-texas-border-patrol-to-its-limits/

James O’Keefe crosses US-Mexico border dressed as Bin Laden [Motion picture]. (2014). Http://video.foxnews.com/v/3730174302001/james-okeefe-crosses-us-mexico-border-dressed-as-bin-laden/?#sp=show-clips.

Maxfield, M., & Babbie, E. (2009). Criminal Justice and Scientific Inquiry. In Basics of research methods for criminal justice and criminology (2nd ed., p. 36 and 38). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

Supply and Demand Reduction

The war on drugs in America rages on with increased efforts in reducing supply and demand.  Supply reduction is an essential component to drug control.  Whereas, drug reduction is ineffective without limiting the availability of drugs in America. (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1999)  Quite simply, when the availability of illegal substances is increased so does the usage and abuse.  This paper will discuss key concepts to supply and demand reduction and evaluate how these concepts can be used in the war on drugs.

Supply reduction in the drug market does not work the same as in the economic market.  As Abadinsky (2014) explains the reduction in drug supply will increase the revenue for a drug trafficker as the desire to consume has not been affected.  Supply reduction is a concept that must be utilized domestically and internationally to be successful.  Regulations help control illegal substances from entering the country.  In the US supply reduction includes enforcement of anti-drug laws, eradication of marijuana cultivation, Custom’s inspections of personal belongings and all persons entering the country, and drug free zones in public and private educational facilities.  The Office of National Drug Control Policy (2014) gives incite in the international efforts for supply reduction, which include building consensus, coordinated investigations, anti-money laundering initiatives, and foreign assistance.  Supply reduction disrupts normal operations of the manufacturing, shipping, and distributing of drugs in the United States.  According to the Drug Policy Alliance Group (2015), American drug policy is focusing their efforts in reducing the international drug supply. The idea is to keep the illegal substances from being smuggled in to the country in order to reduce the availability of the drugs and eventually snuffing out the severity of the issue in America.

Demand reduction is challenging to say the least.  The efforts are aimed at reducing the public’s desire for illegal drugs.  Drug reduction in America include supervised treatment centers.  Often time’s mothers and their babies will undergo court ordered treatment in order to detox and resist the urge to get high once clean.  Babies born with an addiction to cocaine or heroin suffer extreme withdrawal symptoms and often times suffer a great deal.  That is why individual states are taking a stand and placing policies to reduce the demand for drugs.  According to Abadinsky (2014) fourteen states require doctors to report any suspicions of drug abuse by a pregnant woman.  Nineteen states have funded drug treatment programs that are designed for pregnant women.   These efforts are focused on driving down the numbers of babies born with an addiction.  Inn 1998 the Department of Education placed new regulations that would affect students with a drug record from receiving financial assistance or student loans for continued education.

It is difficult to say if the war on drugs will ever come to an end.  Officials will never seize all the illegal drugs or stop them from entering the country.  Nor can they stop drug sales on the street, but they can enforce regulations and laws that are in place to control the availability of the drugs within our communities.  There is success in decreasing numbers.  Drug traffickers will always look for a way around the law and move around looking for safe zones in which they can distribute illicit drugs and make money.  Supply and demand reduction are effective in drug prevention when used together.  It is almost impossible to reduce the desire if the supply is not interrupted.  That is why treatment facilities that work to detox drug abusers decrease the supply that is readily available.  Reducing supply may make the price go up and put more money in the pushers pocket, but eventually his supply is affected and these efforts help bring us closer to a drug free America.

Policy makers must continue implementing new strategies that will allow states to shorten the supply and decrease the desired need for illegal drugs in America.  By increasing efforts in customs, along the borders, and on our streets we have the opportunity to diminish the war on drugs as we know it.

References:

Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Reducing the Supply of Illegal Drugs. (1999). Retrieved May 9, 2015, from https://www.ncjrs.gov/ondcppubs/publications/policy/99ndcs/iv-g.html

Supply and Demand. (2015). Retrieved May 12, 2015, from http://www.drugpolicy.org/supply-and-demand

International Drug Policies

Drugs are not just an American problem.  The drug epidemic is nationally bound.  Among the diversity in cultures there is a common goal to reduce the problems that drugs impose on public safety among the European Union.  Each nation has strong opinions on how this goal should be defined and attained.  Due to the strong standings on the issue, we find that drug policies can vary based on the country.  This paper will focus on current national drug policies in Canada, England, and the Netherlands; and compare and contrast the various policies and then provide an assessment of whether or not these policies would be viable to institute in the U.S.

Canada’s federal drug law is bulked up in one main statute dealing with illicit drugs, it is called the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA).  This statute is responsible for six offenses including: possession, trafficking, cultivation, importing or exporting, and prescription shopping.  The CDSA modernizes Canadian policy and has been in much demand.  According to Dr. Riley (1998), there was an extreme increase of illicit drug use that affected much of the country.  The use of marijuana spiked from 4.2% to 7% and heroin jumped from .3% to 1%.  Although the numbers seem small, the increase in drug use became very dangerous for public safety.  In fact, the CFDP reported 41% of illicit drug users shared hypoallergenic drug needles, increasing risk of HIV and AIDS.  The CDSA is a means to set consequences for individuals that are found in possession, distribution, and production of marijuana. The Canadian Federal Law guidelines are strictly enforced and anyone found in possession of cannabis of 30 grams or less and have distributed less than 3 kilograms will receive a reduced sentence with maximum jail time of six months and five years.  Canada’s maximum for possession of heroin and cocaine remain at seven years with a maximum sentence of life in prison for distributing the illegal drugs.  (Riley, 1998)  Canada’s law does not prohibit individuals from using other very dangerous and addicting drugs.  Under the CDSA many illicit drugs such as methadone and heroin are prescribed as therapeutic drugs and are used under strict monitoring to aide in rehabilitation and treatment of drug users. It seems as though Canada focuses primarily on cannabis and yet the policies appear much more laid back compared to that of the U.S.

The drug policy in the Netherlands is different, in that it separates the market for illegal drugs.  With a leniency for cannabis, many coffee shops are permitted to sell this drug with few restrictions, as long as they do not create a nuisance to the community and do not push harder drugs.  By separating drugs by categories of soft and hard drugs they are also guiding society to view specific drug use as acceptable means of behavior.  The Opium Act of 1919 has been revised a few times, but the same view remains.  The soft drugs such as cannabis are not as damaging as the hard drugs.  Drugs have been named and listed as list 1 and list 2 and define which drugs are to be viewed as criminal and which ones are socially acceptable as long as they are distributed according to the order.  The Netherlands does allow the use of medicinal drugs for sickness and also treatment for drug addiction.  (Tops, Svensson, & Veldhoen, 2001)The law states that anyone distributing the drug unlawfully can face up to 12 years imprisonment.  In the Netherlands possession and supply are strictly prohibited throughout the country and are viewed as major crimes against policy.  It is also legal to cultivate cannabis in one’s home as long as it does not disturb the neighbors.  If a complaint is made or a pungent smell is leaked from the home, in which law enforcement will remove the prohibited objects from the premises.  The drug law in the Netherlands is even more relaxed when compared to policies set in Canada.  The laws are meant to be hard on traffickers and soft on the abusers.

England’s drug policies are defined by two main statues; The Misuse of Drugs Act and the Medicines Act.  The Misuse of Drugs Act is intended to prevent the use of non-medical drugs.  Drugs that fall under this act are known as controlled drugs and include a drugs that do not hold medicinal value for current use.  The law dictates a series of offenses including unlawful possession, intent to distribute or supply, import or export, and unlawful production. (Government of Canada, 1996)  Law enforcement are empowered to perform search and seizure on people as long as there’s reasonable suspicion that they are in possession of a controlled substance.  In order for the illicit drugs to be considered controlled there must be guidelines that are strictly enforced.   Some guidelines can be viewed as very relaxed to the public.  In England it is legal for anyone over the age of five to consume alcohol.  Yet it is illegal to smoke in public areas.  Drugs are listed in categories and the punishment is determined based on such.  The punishment for drug trafficking of an illicit drug such as LSD or ecstasy a category A drug,  is looking at life in prison, where as possession will result in seven years imprisonment.  Much like Canada and the Netherlands; England some drugs are used in treatments for users undergoing rehabilitation from an addiction.  The Medicines Act is enforced and affects the prescription drug trade.  Enforcing prescriptions for medicinal drugs and are provided by a licensed physician only.

Current international policy reflects European countries provide more leeway to citizens, giving them the option to consume soft drugs to deter them from harder addictions.  This is in an effort to reduce crime and not interfere with public safety.  Although different in the approach Canada, Netherlands, and England implement strict policies and enforce tight punishments to anyone that cannot respect the law.  I am certain that these laid back laws would not work here in the United States and would create a danger to society.  More impaired drivers would be found behind the wheel, we would see an increase in drug sales on our streets, and new and more dangerous drugs would emerge.  In order to keep order we must tighten up the reins on current drug policy and enforce severe consequences to anyone that chooses to break the law.  When we lighten up and make the illegal legal we are sending the wrong message to our young people.  America needs to be a role model for these other countries and never give in to the demands of the drug war.

References:

Riley, D. (1998, November 1). Drugs and Drug Policy in Canada:. Retrieved May 15, 2015, from http://www.cfdp.ca/sen8ex1.htm

Tops, D., Svensson, D., & Veldhoen, D. (2001, March 1). THE DRUG POLICIES OF THE NETHERLANDS AND SWEDEN: HOW DO THEY COMPARE? Retrieved May 17, 2015, from http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/etudes/join/2001/300758/IPOL-LIBE_ET(2001)300758_EN.pdf

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (S.C. 1996, c. 19). (1996). Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-38.8/

SWAT a drug prevention program in FLORIDA

swat

Drug abuse has become a very serious issue among teenagers in America today.  The National Drug Intelligence Center (2004) reports more than 7.5 million young people ranging from 12-17 years of age have experimented with drugs at least once.  Whether it is for an escape from reality or a social high, the individual quickly gets hooked and an addiction to the drug is formed.  Our young people are vulnerable and it is for this reason that our policing agencies are investing their time and officers educating students on drug prevention and how to respond to peer pressure.  One of the most addicting drugs that teens have access to is tobacco.  This paper will focus on SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco), a program that was designed by students to help students work against tobacco and the fallacies of the tobacco industry.

Florida is fighting back against tobacco companies by empowering students with the knowledge and truth behind the lies and manipulation that is sold by Big Tobacco.  Since the 1997 Florida state victory costing the tobacco industry billions of dollars in medical costs from Medicaid patients and the revamping of ads that promoted underage smoking; the state has been on a mission to reduce teen smoking and tobacco use. Not only have government officials felt moved to make a change, but young people are also taking a stand. In 1998, just 8 months after Florida called victory in the lawsuit against tobacco companies, nearly 600 students united together to form a group called SWAT. This group was to be run by students for students with the mission “to educate, unite, and empower the diverse segments of youth in Florida to revolt against the manipulation and targeting by Big Tobacco, specifically of youth, through the use of the truth message. “(Florida Swat, 2015)  Students helping students through education, media, marketing, involvement, enforcement, evaluation, and delivering truth is how SWAT is arming our young people.  The sole purpose of this drug prevention group is to get teens involved in making a real change in their home state.  Students have the ability to become advocates and work with law makers in Florida after receiving the real life training and attending workshops.  SWAT is more than just hanging out in a classroom talking about the latest cigarette commercial or chewing tobacco display at the grocery store.  Students that join this drug prevention group are referred to as SWAT members.  The SWAT members are dedicated to living a tobacco free life and revealing the secrets behind advertising efforts to hook teens into an early tobacco addiction.  The SWAT team also promotes the deadly facts about smoking.  Working on a local level and statewide this team of young people is determined to make a difference for generations to come. teens

SWAT’s main focus is on marketing and manipulation of the tobacco industry, it does not deal with the dangers or harmful effects this addicting drug plays on our youth.  (Florida SWAT, 2015)  Students are encouraged to join this group regardless of their culture and personal background.   SWAT has become a staple program for students that have fallen victim to the lies of advertising and have formed the bad habit of smoking.  Young people are rising above the lies and creating advocacy to help deliver SWAT’s main message, “Their brand is lies.  Our brand is truth.” (SWAT, 2014)  By using positive peer pressure and getting teens involved to make a real change in their community the success stories are tripling.  Ten other states have followed Florida’s fight against tobacco companies by joining the revolution and initiating programs that empower students to fight back against Big Tobacco.  Teens across the country are showing their worth and taking a stand every year on March 16th, our National Kick Butts Day.   This day is set aside to help students find value in themselves while delivering a message that they are not a replacement.

Through the education of Florida SWAT, 32 city ordinances and 27 county ordinances have been adopted that place tobacco products behind the retail counter and out of the reach of kids.  This is a success that students fought hard for in the Bay area after a tobacco company filed lawsuit against the movement.  Since 1998 thousands of students and many national organizations, such as Florida Health and The World Health Organization have joined Florida SWAT in creating publications and guides for international distribution.   Spreading the truth throughout the country is what drives these young people.  With successes to limiting second hand smoke and the passing of Amendment 6 to limit smoking in public places it would seem that SWAT is on the right path to promote a tobacco free life.  Working hand in hand with lawmakers SWAT members have become an essential part of the political process, educating decision makers on the necessity of tobacco prevention and dollars saved. The Florida SWAT group (2014) reports a 57% decline in the number of middle school students that smoke and a 37% decline in high school students.  There has also been a great decrease in the number of daily smokers, as many as 63% of middle school students have cut back on the number of cigarettes smoked in a single day.  Not only has there been a decrease in teen smoking, but this program celebrates with a success in the number of students that have committed to never smoke.   56% of middle school and 43% of high school youth have made the commitment to never smoke, even if a best friend offers them a joint.  This is an increase of 73% since the birth of the program in 1998.  This small victory against the effects of advertising by Big Tobacco is a huge success and will lead to more funding and education in schools across America.

Most of the funding for this group comes from internal fundraising by the students.  There are no grants set aside and no major sponsorship.  SWAT faces budget cuts that threaten students from participating in statewide tours that allow them to spread the awareness and truth on tobacco companies.  With great effort students and staff members continue to pull together managing to find ways to raise the much needed funds and to get the word out, reaching thousands of youth from every county in the state of Florida.

Teens are uniting across the state and throughout America with great force to take down tobacco companies.  They are focusing on eliminating promotional efforts that target teens.  By meeting goals to promote public policies to reduce tobacco use, expose the efforts of the tobacco industry that mislead children, and strengthen control efforts by providing support to teens SWAT will continue to be successful in making tobacco free schools and social behaviors of students.  The war against tobacco will be won as our future generation is empowered with the truth to fight back.  Exposing the lies and manipulation of Big Tobacco drives these students.  Truth is knowledge and knowledge is power, may this be a warning to the tobacco industry.

swa

References:

SWAT. (2014, November 18). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://swatflorida.com/

Students Working Against Tobacco. (2015, April 15). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.gen-swat.com/

Teens and Drugs Fast Facts. (2004, November 1). Retrieved May 5, 2015, from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs11/12430/

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Drug Analysis

druas

Research shows drug use can be extremely harmful to the human body.  The damage can be extensive and affect the body both physically and psychologically. Yet, since the discovery of drugs more and more individuals find it hard to overcome the addiction.  In fact, surveys conducted by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (2010) reflect an increase on drug use in America, with 23.5 million Americans addicted to alcohol and drugs.  According to Abdadinsky, (2014), “several attempts have been made to explain why some people become dependent on chemicals while others, even those who use the same substances, do not.”  This paper will analyze and evaluate the differences between alcohol, cocaine, and ecstasy; by identifying the composition, manufacture and cultivation of the drug, how it is used, and the physical and psychological effects on the human body.  Furthermore, this paper will identify one theory that best explains why an individual would chose to use one or more of the chosen drugs aforementioned above.

Alcohol is a depressant and is the most common substance that causes addiction in the United States.  Statistics show over 17 million people suffer from alcohol use or dependency, and several more million show patterns that will lead to addiction.  The alcohol abuse affects more than seven million children in the Unites States; forcing them to fall victim of the effects of alcohol abuse in their own home.  (NCADD, 2015) Ethyl alcohol is the intoxicating ingredient in many alcoholic beverages consumed by Americans today.  It is produced by fermenting carbohydrates to ethyl alcohol by growing yeast cells.  The main raw materials that are fermented for the production of alcohol include sugar cane, barley, corn, and flavoring. (Britannica, 2012) The Ethyl alcohol is found in beer, wine, and other spirits that are produced and sold in liquor stores, food markets, and restaurants.  Anheuser Busch is a major manufacturer of beer in the U.S.  The beer is brewed and fermented from malted barley grain and flavored with hops.  The Barley is cultivated on a private farm in Idaho.  Ethanol is a 2 carbon alcohol, the molecular formula is CH3CH2OH. (Britannica, 2012) This depressant has become a social drink, making it even more dangerous.  It is known as the life of the party, has power to drowned out the memory of a bad breakup, and relax the mind.  It can be consumed alone or with a group of people and is very easy to obtain.  For most adults moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful.  Anything over two drinks per day is considered excessive and heavy drinking and can be life threatening.  Alcohol affects all body systems over an extended period of use.  Consumption results in higher risks of liver cancer, ulcer disease, brain damage, chronic active hepatitis, and impairment of the immune system.  Heavy consumption decreases production of all blood cells, lowering the immune system and resistance to infections, and also decreases lifetime expectancy.  The negative effects are limitless and can also damage one’s emotional stability, finances, impact family and other personal relationships stripping the user of the life that he once knew.

Cocaine is a very powerful and very addicting drug that affects the brain instantaneously.   The chemical formula of cocaine is C17H21NO4.  (Britannica, 2012) It is derived from the coca plant and has been abused for over 100 years.  Cocaine comes in two forms; hydrochloride salt which is a powder and dissolves in water.  It is in this form that the user can inject the drug into their blood stream intravenously or snort it through the nasal passage.  The second form of cocaine is known as freebase; in this form the user can smoke the cocaine for a more intense affect.  Cocaine is a stimulant and can cause the user to feel energized, be extremely talkative, mentally alert, sensitivity to sight and sound, and causes the pupils to dilate.  Among these short term effects lie the hidden long term effects which include: restlessness, paranoia, and irritability.  Cocaine is extremely dangerous for the body in a physical stance causing irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, seizures, and strokes.  This drug is cultivated in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia.  The cultivation process begins weeding the bad seeds out.  The farmer will plant the crop in the best part of his field where the water drains off into the river.  The crop is maintained for 12 to 24 months and after maturity the leaves are removed, dried, and prepared for cocaine processing.  (Rhodium, 1993)

Ecstasy is a popular hallucinogen that is known in the club world as a date rape drug.  Unlike alcohol and cocaine which come from natural ingredients and plants of the earth, this drug is synthesized in a laboratory.  It is a designer drug created by altering the molecular structure of the amphetamine.  Ecstasy has a molecular formula of C11H15NO2   and contains caffeine, ephedrine, ketamine, and methamphetamine. (Britannica, 2012) This drug is most commonly taken orally and is often slipped unknowingly into an individual’s drink.  It can also be inhaled, injected, and snorted.  Once the drug has entered the body it quickly finds a passageway to the brain.  It is absorbed into the bloodstream very easily and affects the liver, heart, lungs, and brain of the human body.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014) it will take 15 minutes from the time that the drug is ingested to reach the brain.  It causes short term and long term effects on the human brain.  The short term effects include feeing empathy and warm feelings towards others, decreased anxiety, and mental stimulation.  This is a happy drug that temporarily increases your positivity and mood and will increase sexual arousal.  Ecstasy has also been known to increase paranoia, reduce pleasure, and cause intense depression.  After ingesting the drug the user will experience chills, blurred vision, nausea, hallucinations, and fever.

Most individuals begin using drugs as a means to cope with a social issue or because they have witnessed a friend or family member using the substance at one time or another.  This is an example of the social theory on drugs.  According to Abadinsky (2014) most young people seek out drugs to cope with depression, alienation, or parental disapproval.  Individuals that use alcohol tend to do it in a social setting usually with friends to enhance the mood and liven things up.  It is also a relaxation tool and helps the user unwind in stressful situations, like a first date.  Cocaine is another social drug that is used in secret with a small group that are seeking an escape from reality.  The individuals most likely already share a bound and have experimented with other drugs before.  Young people see drugs as an easy way to connect with peers and to get through the common hardships that come as a teen in a world.

These three drugs are very common in that they change the behavior of the user and increase chances of physical harm to oneself or others.  The chances of death is increased while under the influence of the illegal substances.  Alcohol and Cocaine offer a quick rush while ecstasy requires more time to influence the mental functions of the brain.  One thing remains they are dangerous whether used in a solo setting or with a large group.  The physical and psychological effects will stay with you and may impair you for a lifetime, leaving you in shambles.

References:

Join Together Staff Writer. (2010, September 28). New Data Show Millions of Americans with Alcohol and Drug Addiction Could Benefit from Health Care R – Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.drugfree.org/new-data-show-millions-of-americans-with-alcohol-and-drug-addiction-could-benefit-from-health-care-r/

Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Alcohol & Drug Information. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://ncadd.org/for-the-media/alcohol-a-drug-information

Ethyl alcohol | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/194354/ethyl-alcohol

Cocaine | chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/123441/cocaine

Ecstasy| chemical compound. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/378657/Ecstasy

Rhodium. (1993, January 1). Coca Cultivation and Cocaine Processing: An Overview – [www.rhodium.ws]. Retrieved April 22, 2015, from https://erowid.org/archive/rhodium/chemistry/coca2cocaine.html

The Neurobiology of Ecstasy (MDMA). (2014, January 1). Retrieved April 22, 2015, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-ecstasy/section-i/4-what-we-know-about-ecstasy

PARENTS BEWARE OF RAVES

rave

Raves are giving new meaning to night life.  According to Abadinsky (2014,) they became very popular in the late 1980’s, where they originated in the UK and shortly after their popularity spread all over Europe.  The FBI (2010) defines raves as “high energy, all night dances that feature hard pounding techno-music and flashing laser lights.  They can be a ton of fun and a form of expression, but they can also be extremely dangerous.  Drugs run rampant at these overcrowded parties and it is easy for your child to get pushed into using, as the excitement and peer pressure builds throughout the nightly event.   This paper will identify the types of drugs that are used at raves, why it is difficult for law enforcement to identify these events, and what should happen when law enforcement arrives on the scene at one of these parties.

Raves take place at a permanent dwelling, usually a club.  It is advertised that there will be no alcohol or drugs at the event and light security is provided.  Parents of young people that are actively involved in this scene must remain aware what is advertised is a cover up for the limitless drugs that liven up the party.  Raves are the most popular venue for club drugs to be sold and distributed.  The FBI (2010) report the most common club drugs include MDMA (Ecstasy,) GHB and Rohypnol (date rape drugs,) Ketamine, Methamphetamine, and LSD.  These drugs are easy to distribute without being detected as they are odorless and tasteless.  MDMA’s are popular among many ravers.  This drug can last up to three hours and gives the individual the ability to dance the night away without taking many breaks.  It also increases the chance for dehydration, increased body temperature, and liver failure.  Date rape drugs are very common and are usually slipped into the victim’s drink causing amnesia in order for the assailant to commit a sexual assault.  Ketamine and Methamphetamine are snorted and smoked by the user.  Ketamine will cause the user to hallucinate while impairing memory function. Methamphetamine causes the user to become aggressive, violent, and paranoid.  Many ravers choose to use LSD which causes the user to hallucinate, sweat profusely, and increase heart rate.   These drugs are extremely dangerous and have many adverse reactions including, but not limited to: insomnia, dehydration, impaired speech, drowsiness, confusion, and nausea. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2012)

Law enforcement agencies are challenged with identifying a rave.  Raves can take place in an ordinary night club and drugs can easily go undetected creating a mask for the real event.  Ravers will also set up an event in a desolate area that is low key in order to hide from cops.  It is seldom that undercover agents can obtain information on an upcoming rave on social media. According to The National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) ravers do not promote details to the public, but advertise on flyers found only at record stores, clothing shops, and other rave parties.  Following tradition the location of the rave is kept secret in order to protect those in attendance.  The fliers will advertise a phone number and the city in which the rave is going to be held, more details are provided after calling.  In some occurrences a promoter may provide only a location which is called a map point where ravers can go and retrieve the actual party location.  Due to the extreme efforts in protecting the location of the rave party, law enforcement is typically a step behind.

When a law enforcement team arrives at a rave there isn’t much they can do Gill (2009) reports.  If there has been a noise complaint, officers can test the sound with a decibel meter and if the noise is too loud they can request the dj to quiet the music.  If no legal activity can be seen, officers do not have much control.   Retired Sergeant Juan Flores of the Chicago City Police Department (2015) concurs with Gills argument.  Flores (2015) reflects on his career with Chicago City Police, he stated that when an officer arrives on scene of a rave there is a checklist that is followed before any action can be taken.  First and foremost an officer should check with the facility for a license permitting them to host such an event of such sort.  It is also important to observe the environment; taking note of any signs of intoxication or signs of anyone under the influence of drugs.  In Chicago anyone under the age of 16 is not legally permitted to be out doors past 11:00pm.   It is important to adhere to the curfew and depending on the time, make sure there are no young people attending the rave.  Officers will also observe for any disturbance to the public, illegal substances or alcohol beings served to minors, and occupancy.  If the facility has maxed out on occupancy it is the duty of the officer to notify the fire chief to have the party shut down.  If there is any illegal activity an officer can apprehend offenders.

Law enforcement officers work round the clock to protect our community.  It can be difficult at times to identify the location of a rave, but once found the officer will do all that he is permitted by law to do.  Enforcing the law and safety is of utmost concern.  In order to crack down on rave activity policing agencies are getting the word out to parents and young people.  Informing the public of the dangers that lurk behind the hidden truths is the only way to shut down the dangers inevitably.  Raves are high energy and can be a great time, but they are also where predators hunt for sexual prey.  Overcrowding and the use of illegal substances are a breeding ground for danger.  The only way to ensure your safety is to know the dangers and stay away.

References:

Tips for Parents: The Truth About Club Drugs. (2010, March 17). Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/clubdrugshttp://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/club-drugs

Gill, J. (2009, March 17). Police respond to all-night rave at Pharaoh’s Lost Kingdom. Retrieved April 12, 2015, from http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/general-news/20090318/police-respond-to-all-night-rave-at-pharaohs-lost-kingdom

Information Bulletin: Raves. (2001, April 1). National Drug Intelligence Center. Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs/656/index.htm

Club Drugs. (2012, December 1). National Institute on Drug Abuse.  Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/club-drugs

Flores, J. (2015, April 11). Law Enforcement and Raves [Personal interview].

Abadinsky, H. (2014). Drug Use and Abuse: A Comprehensive Introduction (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Historical Analysis on Marijuana

Marijuana has an extensive history in American culture.  It has proven to be highly effective in treating and curing many medical conditions, but also contains many addicting properties that cause negative effects on the human brain.  Since the early 1800’s, there has been great controversy surrounding this powerful drug.  This paper will analyze America’s use and abuses of marijuana from1800-1850 and relate it to the current legislation and public policies.

It was the turn of the century and America’s desire for hemp (another name for marijuana,) was spreading like wild fire.  In fact it was against the law not to grow hemp in many of the U.S. states.  Hence, if a farmer did not produce enough, they were arrested.  Hemp had become a valuable resource and was used for cloth, canvas, and other goods.  It even grew plentiful on the plantations of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  George Washington believed this vital resource should be sown all across America. (NAIHC, 1997) The production on American soil was slow.  Annual domestic production of marijuana was about 5,000 to 10,000 tons, and spiked in the 1840’s at 30,000 tons. (Hemphasis, 2004) It was for this reason that America entered war with Great Britain over free trade in 1812 to gain access of Russian Hemp.  The Russian Hemp was found to be more durable and was imported for use by the Navy.  The hemp fibers were utilized in rope and sail making for naval ships.

In 1840 there were new discoveries that led America to believe marijuana held medicinal uses.  Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a French doctor found that marijuana was useful to suppress headaches, increase appetite, and helped people sleep.  In 1842, Dr. William O’Shaughnessy suggested this drug had principles that aided in menstrual cramping and labor pains.  Shortly after in 1850, America started using Cannabis (marijuana) in pharmaceutical drugs. (DSD, 2015)  It was available at public pharmacies and was listed to treat numerous conditions including but not limited to rabies, dysentery, insanity, tonsillitis, cholera, and typhus.    Marijuana extracts were produced in America by Eli-Lilly, Parke-Davis, Tilden’s, and Brothers Smith.  It became the second most prescribed medicine for ailments in the country.  During the 1800’s America was still in the process of discovery with cannabis and there are no records of any type of abuse.  In fact, there are no records indicating any fatalities or psychological damage from the use of this drug.  However, America would soon discover the power of addiction in the coming years not discussed in this paper.

In present day there have been many changes in the regulations for marijuana.  Over time studies prove marijuana to be highly addictive causing an increase in heart rate, increase bleeding, lower your blood pressure, and even cause lung cancer.  (WebMD, 2015)  The addiction is caused by the proponent called THC which creates the high.  When the drug is inhaled or ingested it is absorbed into your system and affects every organ in your body.  It is extremely fast acting.  This drug is one of the top three drugs used by young people today because of the quick high.  It is often times smoked and referred to as pot.  Pot has become a recreational drug that allows the user to relax and feel happy.  It can also create a negative effect by causing anxiety, depression, distortion of time, and paranoia.  According to statistics collected by Washington State University (2012) nearly 17.4 Americans use the recreational drug and 4 million Americans have an addiction.  It is a drug of choice among Americans because it is viewed as harmless and it is said to be a “gateway drug.”  Meaning that it opens the door to abusers to experiment with stronger and more dangerous drugs in order to reach the desired high.  Yet, this drug still holds the power to heal and is used to treat cancer, AIDS, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.

So how does the Federal and State governments mandate and regulate marijuana?  In the early 1800’s the primary law in effect was used to order farmers to grow marijuana.  Today, we have laws that forbid citizens to use the drug, unless it is prescribed by your doctor and must be used for medical reasons.  It is against state laws and federal laws to grow,  possess or use the drug in any other manner.  In the state of Florida it is considered a misdemeanor if an individual is caught in possession of or selling 20 grams or less of pot.  It is a felony if they possess or sell more than 20 grams and is punishable by incarceration of up to 5 years. (NORML, 2015)  Florida enforces the state laws and will see that offenders are punished to the very extent of the law.  Because our youth end up being prime targets for drug pushers, Florida will charge the offender with a felony if they are selling drugs within 1000 feet of a school or college.  (NORML, 2015)  This is a big change from the earlier years when America was merely discovering the uses of hemp and allowed citizens to pay their taxes with the drug in place of money.  That is how valuable America viewed marijuana in the early 1800’s.  Marijuana is not considered a vital resource for our government any longer, but viewed as America’s number one enemy.

The federal government also considers the use of marijuana to be an offense against the law regardless of the medicinal success.  States are trying to fight back and provide protection for marijuana patients by passing individual state laws that deem the drug legal when prescribed and overseen by a doctor.  Over 20 states have passed medicinal marijuana laws since 1996. (Whitehouse, 2015) However the laws do not hold validity when the user is being charged under federal law.  The Washington State University reports an increase in the use of marijuana by young people ages 12 to 17 in states that have marijuana medical laws, than in states without these type of laws.   Just goes to show you how easy it is for students to get their hands on the prescription drug and to abuse it.   Marijuana is also regulated by the FDA which is mandated by the federal government.  It has not been approved by the FDA, but is viewed as a drug that has potential for medical healing and is being monitored.  It took years for America to learn the negative aspects of marijuana and that is why it is so important not to legalize pot as a recreational drug like alcohol and tobacco.  In the early years of consumption America was very laid back and did not foresee the negative effects of long time use and abuse.  The 1800’s Americans were forced by the government to grow crops because it was viewed as a very valuable resource and it was available to the public without regulation.  This set the stone to addiction in America and resulted in the need for stronger drugs and a better high.

America has come a long way and yet there is still so much to learn about marijuana.  This drug has the potential of being approved by the FDA within the next hundred years or so. With that said there are more regulations and laws that will be enforced before that occurs.  Since the early 1800’s, America has found many uses for cannabis and has also seen a society become addicted and abuse the same drug.  It is extremely powerful and the medicinal successes do not outweigh the negative psychological and mental effects.

References:

Hemp Facts. (1997, October 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://naihc.org/hemp_information/hemp_facts.html

Dvorak, J. (2004, January 1). America’s Harried Hemp History. Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://www.hemphasis.net/History/harriedhemp.htm

Cannabis History. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://marijuanadispensarysandiego.org/main/cannabis-history/

Marijuana – Marijuana Use and Effects of Marijuana. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/marijuana-use-and-its-effects?page=2

Facts about marijuana. (2012, March 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://adai.washington.edu/marijuana/factsheets/marijuana_WA_state.pdf

NORML.org – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from http://norml.org/laws/item/florida-penalties?category_id=901

Marijuana Resource Center: State Laws Related to Marijuana. (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 7, 2015, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/state-laws-related-to-marijuana

America’s War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is one of the largest under takings, by the U.S. government that spans over the past 40 years. It has cost the U.S. billions of dollars each year since 1968. In fact, Miron and Wadlock (2011) reports the U.S. federal government spent over fifteen billion dollars in 2010 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about five hundred dollars per second. Yet, within this great investment lies much debate and controversy. This paper will address the connection between drugs, crime, and violence, and whether or not the United States government has had much success decreasing crime and violence using the current strategies in the last thirty to forty years.
There is a strong correlation between drugs and crime. To begin with, producing, selling, and using drugs are unlawful. Florida Statute 499.03 deem it unlawful for a citizen to use drugs without a valid prescription. It also states that, it is unlawful to possess illegal substances with the intent to make a profit or to assist in a drug sale in any form or fashion. It is also unlawful to establish a lab of any sort that is maintained for illegal substances according to Florida Statute 465.015. Drugs are also interrelated with crime because of the influence they have on the user’s behavior. Drugs impair judgment and generate violent behavior that can not only hurt the user, but the innocent people around them. According to data collected and reported by the Florida Institute of Technology (2014) drugs and alcohol contribute to more than 50 percent of all violent crimes in the United States. It continues to report that nearly 50 percent of traffic accidents involve the use of illegal substances and are the root of 80 percent of domestic violence calls. Judgment is generally the first to be impaired while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. The effects can lead to poor decision making, poor concentration and loss of inhibitions, extreme emotions such as rage and anxiety, and blackouts. Also, many offenders find themselves committing crimes in order to obtain the money to purchase drugs that feed their addiction. In October of 2006 the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported as many as 18.4% of prisoners in our Federal jails committed a violent crime in order to obtain the money needed to purchase narcotics. There was no care in the world, when committing the crime for the individuals that were harmed. The motivator was the addiction to such a dangerous substance.
In 1986, Ronald Reagan spoke out to the citizens of the United States and expressed his gratification on the war on drugs in America. In his speech he shared great news that reports by the DEA reflecting a shortage in Marijuana and an increase in seizures of illegal drugs. The government tripled its costs on the war on drugs, but it was done in great measure and with great progression. Even still after costing over sixty billion dollars a year, we faced challenges with drug smuggling, babies being born with an addiction to drugs and abnormalities, and crack a new drug that was being described by the President as an “uncontrolled fire” as we slowly entered the 90’s. Drug abuse affects everyone not just the user and will take everyone’s efforts to control. This was Regan’s message to America. During Reagan’s presidency there was a spike in the number of people behind bars for nonviolent drug law offenses. As many as 50,000 offenders were incarcerated in 1980 to over 400,000 by the late 90’s.
Thirty years later, America is still amidst the war on drugs. We face new challenges and new drugs that inhibit clear thinking and influence dangerous behaviors. During the presidential campaign in the 90’s Clinton gained popularity by promising the public that he would bring an end to the war on drugs by providing treatment for the offenders rather than incarcerate them. Shortly after taking over the White House, Clinton quickly reverted back to “Republican ways” and started filling the state and federal prisons with the people that use drugs, once again. When Bush took over he also invested a tremendous amount of American dollars with an effort to control illegal substances in the country. Efforts by the Bush Administration focused on student drug testing. This strategy was an epic fail with an increase in overdose fatalities. On the Issues (2000) reported George W. Bush also ignited the militarization of domestic drug law enforcement by adding 40,000 SWAT style raids on US citizens each year. These raids were mostly for nonviolent crimes that involved illegal substances. During President George W. Bush’s presidency the war on drugs stalled. Many state governments began to see a decrease in the drug epidemic that plagued the country. This created opportunities for change. Under Obama’s “reign” in the White House, Americans are being offered the chance to rock the vote on legalizing drugs. This past year Liberals were pushing to legalize Marijuana. Politicians see Marijuana as a leisure drug and compare it to alcohol and tobacco. Voters in Florida voted no and have kept this dangerous drug illegal across the state.
There has been much effort to end the war on drugs in America. With each strategy implemented, there has been change. Yet not enough to eliminate the issue altogether. It is inevitable that Americans will see more outlandish opportunities to change drug policies and to legalize drugs in hopes to wipe out crime. Progress to win the battle on the war on drugs is slow, but if America sticks to her guns positive change is bound to occur.

References

Miron, J., & Wadlock, K. (2011, January 1). The Budgetary Impact of Drug Prohibition. Retrieved March 29, 2015, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp

Florida Statute 499.03 Possession of certain drugs without prescriptions unlawful; exemptions and exceptions. (2015, March 11). Retrieved March 29, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=unlawful drugs&URL=0400-0499/0499/Sections/0499.03.html

Florida Statute 465.015 Violations and penalties. (2015, March 11). Retrieved March 31, 2015, from http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=unlawful drugs&URL=0400-0499/0465/Sections/0465.015.html

Facts about Alcohol and Drug Abuse. (2014, January 1). Florida Institute of Technology. Retrieved March 31, 2015, from http://www.fit.edu/caps/articles/facts.php

Drug use and crime. (2006, October 1). Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved March 29, 2015, from http://www.bjs.gov/content/dcf/duc.cfm
Ronald Reagan-Speech to the Nation on the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (September 14, 1986). (1986, September 11). Retrieved March 31, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYWS7udm0yg

George W. Bush on Drugs. (2000, January 1). Retrieved March 31, 2015, from http://www.ontheissues.org/2004/George_W__Bush_Drugs.htm

Looking over a juvenile case study: Charlie

The juvenile justice system was established over a century ago and focuses on correcting delinquent behavior in adolescence as a means to avoid criminal behavior as an adult.  There are many criminal justice professionals that work together in order to see that the juvenile receives the proper punishment and is rehabilitated so that they can live peacefully as law-abiding citizens within society.   This paper is going to review details of a case study that involves a 10-year-old delinquent and the key players within the juvenile justice system that work hard to redirect, correct, and rehabilitate the child.

The three main roles that directly work with the juvenile include; the Juvenile Police Officer, the Judge, and the Probation Officer.  It is important to understand the function of each position in the juvenile system.  For juveniles, the police officer is a very important role.  The police officer generally acts as a window into the criminal justice system.  They are the first key player that the delinquent interacts with.  Police officers bring in the delinquent to the police station or headquarters to be questioned, finger printed, booked, and detained.  The role of the police officer is vital to the young person, as they make the decision to refer the delinquent to juvenile court.  The roles of this key player are broad as they deal with status offenses like curfew violations, truancy, skipping school, and runaways.  They also deal with cases that involve abuse and neglect of a minor.  The officer will intervene and remove the victim from the home and conduct interviews with school officials, parents, and other witnesses to ensure the safety of everyone involved.  (Myers, 2012 p.2) Police officers are also involved with the community and provide education services to young people.  Programs like D.A.R.E and G.R.E.A.T are two great programs that are offered to children in schools to help deter teens from drugs and gang related crime.   School resource officers are also placed in inner city schools in urban areas where crime rates are high in order to provide safety and counsel to the students.  School resource officer have the ability to investigate and report incidents that may occur on the school premises.  (Myers, 2012 p. 10) When a juvenile is brought in for questioning they are not always arrested and detained.  The officer must decide if a warning is feasible and if the young person can be released to their parents or guardian, if further police supervision is needed, or if they are to move forward into the juvenile court system where they will be seen before a judge.  When an officer refers a juvenile delinquent to court the case is handed over to a probation officer to handle.

The probation officer views every case.  Prior to the case going to court the probation officer must screen the case and determine if it should be processed formally.  They also decide if the juvenile should be detained.  The probation officer will also prepare investigative reports that the judge can use in dispositions.  After court the probation officer takes a more hand on role in which they provide supervision and monitoring of the juvenile.  The officer will file reports on the behavior and progress of the delinquent and administer drug tests as required.  The probation officer works closely with the judge.

The judge is considered to be the most important role of the juvenile court process.    The judge’s function is to determine the wellbeing and fate of the juvenile.  He is to take into consideration the facts of the case and decide whether or not the child is in need of rehabilitation or if he can return home with the family and caretakers.  The judge is also responsible for making sure that the juvenile receive the same constitutional fairness as an adult and that the rights of the young person are not violated.  The judge must also ensure due process and make sure that all parties of the court are working effectively.  (Edwards, 1992 p. 1-3) Once the case has been heard it is up to the sole discretion of the judge to determine the fate of the juvenile and what restorative justice program and rehabilitation program will be considered to correct and deter the juvenile from committing crimes.

These three parties are co-dependent.  They create a balance and when one key player fails they all fail.  Each role played display discretionary power and determine if the juvenile delinquent must move on to the next step or be dismissed.  They share a common goal to uphold the law and to help the young person make changes in his life in order to be a successful law-abiding citizen and to refrain from criminal acts later on in life.  The police officer, probation officer, and judge are all driven with the desire to identify law violators, the intent of the law violator, and to punish the law violator.  (Jones & Kerbs, 2006) Although these three parties share commonalities, they are also different in many ways.  The police officer and the probation officer work directly with the juvenile, but they do not report or work under the same directives.  The police officer is the first encounter of the juvenile system and they determine the crime displayed and provide the initial report by questioning the offender and witnesses.  The probation officer acts as a monitor and supervises.  The judge does not directly work with the delinquent, but reviews the facts of the case and determines the fate.  The judge has limited amount of time with the delinquent and does not directly influence the young person.  The individual that will provide the most influence and spend the most time with the delinquent is the probation officer.

In the case of ten-year old Charlie we are aware that this is not the first time he has gotten into trouble with the law.  Charlie was caught by a police officer and was in possession of $100 in stolen items.  The officer has to take into account that this young boy has several counts of shoplifting on his rap sheet and it is apparent a warning is not going to deter him from the crime.  The officer makes the decision to refer the juvenile to court where he will go before a judge.  The probation officer handles Charlie’s case and prepares it for court.  The probation officer must decide if Charlie’s case needs to be processed in a formal manner or informal procedure.  Based on the facts of the case, Charlie may benefit from an informal processing in which the punishment will be best suited for Charlie based on his personal needs.  The case is presented to the judge in court.  The judge does not take lightly the fact that Charlie has no respect for the law and he has been caught shoplifting several times before.  Charlie is not a bad kid, but he is in need of direction and proper discipline.  This young boy catches a break and is offered probation in which he will follow strict rules and a curfew.  Charlie has also been ordered to apologize to the store owner and to provide his services in the store in order to work off the amount of the stolen debt.  Charlie is court ordered to attend school every day and to keep his grades up.  The probation officer visits with Charlie once a week to make sure the court order is being followed and he also makes unscheduled visits to the store to ensure Charlie is working off his debt.  Charlie’s progress is reported back to the judge by the probation officer.

Like so many other juveniles, Charlie was in need of guidance in order to have a real chance in the world.  By working together and remaining focused on the shared goal to punish and rehabilitate the delinquent’s behavior the three key players in the juvenile justice system have the ability to make a positive change in this young person’s life.

References:

Myers, J. (2012). Police and Juveniles. In Juvenile Justice (pp. 1-3 & 10). Sage Publications.

Edwards, L. (1992). The Juvenile Court and the Role of the Juvenile Court Judge. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 1-3.