Photo: Sonny Abesamis

Systems Overload: Drug Laws and Prisons in Latin America

This paper demonstrates how drug policy in the country tended to a progressive hardening along the twentieth century and, notwithstanding, failed to be effective in reducing supply and in combating organized crime networks dedicated to trafficking.

 

Systems overload is a study coordinated by TNI/WOLA that brings together analysis on the implications of drug policy in the prison systems of eight Latin American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. This is an unprecedented effort which reveals that drug policy has contributed to the prison crisis these countries are living, inter alia, due to disproportionate penalties. It also shows that in most of these countries, repression ends affecting people in vulnerable situations and those who constitute the weakest shackle of the drug trafficking networks. Two researchers of DeJusticia conducted the chapter on Colombia. This paper demonstrates how drug policy in the country tended to a progressive hardening along the twentieth century and, notwithstanding, failed to be effective in reducing supply and in combating organized crime networks dedicated to trafficking. In contrast, they have had a major impact on the prison system and in the lives of thousands of people who have lost their liberty due to drug-related crimes.


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