The term criminal justice system is used by courts, police, law makers and other facilities within the system of government in the United States to describe the interdependent components of the criminal justice within each of the fifty states.

The goals of the justice system on crimes are mainly to reduce crime and to do justice. Reducing crime in the US can be divided into two; crime control – achieved through responding to a calls for service, making arrests, obtaining criminal conviction, and carrying out punishments imposed by the court, this is less emphasized in the US or through crime prevention – which is proactive and involves elimination of the conditions that produce criminality.

The second goal of the criminal justice system is to do justice. Justice could be divided into two; corrective justice which involves holding the guilty responsible for the harms they inflict, and procedural justice which assumes that all persons will be treated equally in the eyes of the law, that no group will be treated differently in the eyes of the law.

Forms of Crime

Forms of crime in the United States can be divided into the following: Cyber crime, Drugs and Alcohol, organized crime and White collar crime. (Williams, 2006)



Cyber crime refers to crime involving computers and the use of the internet and any other kind of electronic crime, fraud or forgery.

Drugs and Alcohol Crime: drugs such as cocaine, heroin, morphine and amphetamines are classified as drugs that have potential for abuse therefore making it illegal to use, possess, manufacture, or distribute them in the United States.

White collar crime: refers to crime by an individual or a collaboration of people in the course of there respectable and high status occupation. It is crime involving fraud, bribery, insider trading, and embezzlement among white-collar employees. It is linked to corporate crime.

Organized crime: also known as mafias, can be defined as groupings run by criminals for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, for a monetary profit. (Collins, 1995)

Response by the criminal justice system on drugs and alcohol crimes.

In United States, drug abuse is any personal possession, distribution, sale or use of a drug contrary to law. Illegal drugs fall into different categories, inclusive of legal medicines obtained illegally. Sentences vary depending on the amount, type of drug, circumstances, and jurisdiction but generally, the penalty for illegal drug possession and sale varies from a small fine to a prison sentence. (Stephens, 1992)

The criminal justice system drug policy has come a long way but is in most occasions it can be traced back to 1971 when the seating president declared a prohibition on drugs which led to



restriction in production and use of certain drugs that were termed illegal. This trend has progressed from generation to generation of presidency. Below is the trend of the initiated drug prohibition from the year 1880-2009;

1880: An agreement between The United States and China to prohibit cross border movement of the drug opium.

1914: Enactment of an Act which regulated the companies that dealt with the production and distribution of opium products.

1919: Alcohol prohibition was codified under the constitutional amendment.


President Roosevelt announces application as law of matters discussed at the International Opium Convention.

1937: Passing of an Act, against marijuana which saw an increase in taxes for marijuana and its products.

1951: Increase in penalties and taxes against marijuana by a higher percentage.

1956: Further increase in penalties.

1979: An annual survey indicated that almost a quarter of the entire population, used illegal drugs.

1988: Creation of National Drug Control Policy office.



1989 The first court dealing with charges on drug abuse came up.

1992 In this year the use of prohibited drugs use fell to 12 million people. (Cole, 2008).

1993: The seating president signs a treaty which resulted in easier shipping or narcotics into the country since importers could hide the illegal drugs among the other legal commodities they imported.

1998: A study on drug policy is done by National Research Council (NRC)

2001: The study by NRC produces a negative result and declares drug prohibition policy as futile since the number of people abusing drugs had risen by 4million.

2008 A report indicates that youth drug use had declined by 4%.

2009 The term war on drugs was declared not productive in trying to reduce drug use. (Chin,


Arguments for prohibition

Improvement of Health

The war on drugs can improve the general health of the Americans since the adverse effects of illegal drugs are reduced.



Reduction of Crime and terrorism

Prohibition of drugs has resulted into social order due to reduction in crime generally.


Reduces the restriction of people’s freedom as a result of violence, drugs and criminality in society.

Campaign Strategy

Advocating for a drug policy could be advantageous to those campaigning for political positions. (Barr, 2008)

Arguments against prohibition

Health Dangers

In contrast to the known belief drugs such as khat that are legal have more adverse effects than the prohibited.



Benefits of using some illegal drugs

Some of the illegal drugs under prohibition can be used for both medicine, and comfort with success in some cultures.

Enhancement of Stigma and other health concerns

Those imprisoned or charged with using drugs a re stigmatized and scarcity of items such as needles has lead to sharing of needles and thus spread of other diseases such as HIV.

Limitation of research

Prohibiting the illicit drugs has become a problem to research companies since material is not available for required results. (Cole, 2008).

Increased Crime

Prohibiting illegal drugs has not reduced the rate of crime and terrorism instead it has made drug trafficking and distribution into the black market more profitable. (Cole, 2008).



Children being victims

As a result of prohibition, children have become victims to drug trafficking since its believed that they are innocent are rarely suspects of drug trafficking.

Freedom to use drugs

Authors of various books believe that individual privacy is violated by the prohibition of drugs.

Individuals should be allowed to freely undertake what pleases them with no restrictions.

Prohibition violates the freedom of individual choice.

Economically not viable

Economists argue that the war on drugs is extremely costly and that the cost is impacted on the tax payers who have to pay more taxes to sustain the buns and the arrests of those imprisoned fro drug related crimes. (Ronald, 2007).

Reduced productivity

Companies outside the United States that had there market for the now illegal drugs in the United States are suffering lowered productivity levels due to the prohibition. This has impacted on these countries that used to distribute illicit drugs and has led to there political instability.




It is viewed as more ethical to get people to stop using drugs by making it legal other than when it’s criminalized.

Spiritual religious freedoms

Some religious groups and culture use the illicit drugs as sacrament in rituals and is therefore unethical to criminalize the use of drugs and is against the freedom of worship.

No distinction between types of crime

The concept of drug related crime does not distinguish between three types of crime associated with drugs

–  Use-Related crime: These are

crimes that result from ingestion of illicit drugs due to the

effect they

have on thought process and behavior.

–  Economic-Related crime: These

are crimes committed in order to fund a drug habit.

These crimes include

theft and prostitution.

–  System-Related crime: These

are crimes that result from production, manufacture,

transportation, and

sale of drugs, as well as violence related to the production or sale of

drugs. (Huizinga, 2001)




The above essay clearly shows that the prohibition of illicit drugs in the United States has more limitations than it has benefits. Although authorities still deny prohibition has failed, many reports and researches have shown that conclusion. Alternative methods to reduce drug trafficking and consumption should be initiated. These methods could include no advertisement of those products, increased taxation, just to mention a few which could be relevant. Prohibition has only succeeded in increasing health, social and economic costs but it has not succeeded in reducing drug use.


Matthew Robinson and Marian Williams (2009). The Myth of a Fair Criminal System. Routledge publishers.

Matthew Williams (2006)

Crime, Deviance and Regulation Online. Routledge publishers.

Gene Stephens (1992). Drugs and Crime in the Twenty-First Century: New Approaches to Old Problems. Futurist Publishers.

Scott Menard; Sharon Mihalic and David Huizinga. (2001) Drugs and Crime Revisited. Justice Quarterly Publishers.

Gabriel J. Chin & Todd Collins. (1995)] A War on Drugs or a War on Immigrants? Expanding the Definition of ‘Drug Trafficking’ in Determining Aggravated Felon Status for Non-Citizens, Jeff Yates, 64 Maryland Law Review.



Gabriel J. Chin. Race, (2002) the War on Drugs and the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Conviction, Maryland Law Review.

Bob Barr. (2008) I Was Wrong About the War on Drugs – It’s a Failure. AlterNet Publishers.

Jack A. Cole. (2008).The solution to the failed drug war. Boston Globe Publishers.

Bruce L. Benson (1998), To Serve and Protect: Privatization and Community in Criminal Justice.

New York University Press.

Smothers, Ronald (2007). Expansion of New  Jersey’s drug treatment courts is

Encouraged. New York Times,