Addicted to punishment: The disproportionality of drug laws in Latin America

Dejusticia | diciembre 5, 2012

Foto: Sonny Abesamis

This document analyzes the proportionality of drug related crimes in seven Latin American countries through the study of the evolution of their criminal legislations from 1950 until 2012. The study suggests the existence of a regional tendency to maxim…

This document analyzes the proportionality of drug related crimes in seven Latin American countries through the study of the evolution of their criminal legislations from 1950 until 2012. The study suggests the existence of a regional tendency to maximize the use of criminal law for combating this type of conducts. This is reflected in: i) the gradual increase in the number of drug-related conducts described as criminal, ii) the exponential growth of the penalties with which those conducts are punished and iii) the incomprehensible tendency of punishing with more severity the drug-related crimes rather than those more evidently severe such as homicide, rape and aggravated robbery. Those upward trends indicate that the Latin American States have become addicted to punishment because of their frequent and empirically groundless increasing of the punitive dose, regardless of its constantly decreasing benefits.

Addicted to punishment is part of a series of studies carried out by the Research Consortium on Drugs and the Law (CEDD) that critically analyze the application of the proportionality principle in relation with drug crimes. The studies find that the punishments imposed and the punitive treatment of the offenders are disproportional, often generating more damages than benefits.

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