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Depenalization, diversion and decriminalization: A realist review and programme theory of alternatives to criminalization for simple drug possession

Stevens, Alex, Hughes, Caitlin Elizabeth, Hulme, Shann, Cassidy, Rebecca (2019) Depenalization, diversion and decriminalization: A realist review and programme theory of alternatives to criminalization for simple drug possession. European Journal of Criminology, . ISSN 1477-3708. E-ISSN 1741-2609. (doi:10.1177/1477370819887514) (KAR id:77095)

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https://doi.org/10.1177/1477370819887514

Abstract

Alternatives to criminalization for the simple possession of illicit drugs are increasingly of interest to policy makers. But there is no existing theoretically based, empirically tested framework that can inform development and evaluation. This article presents a realist programme theory of such alternatives. It bases this on a realist review, which followed the Realist and Meta-narrative Evidence Syntheses: Evolving Standards (RAMESES). It describes the systematic process of searching the literature in English on nine relevant countries (Australia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, Netherland, Portugal, the UK, the USA) for information on alternative measures in three categories: depenalization; diversion; and decriminalization. It shows how these measures – in theory and in practice – combine with pre-existing social conditions and institutional contexts to trigger mechanisms across three causal pathways (normative; criminal justice; and health and social services). It shows how some posited causal processes are more empirically supported than others. Alternative measures can reduce harms imposed by criminal justice processes without increasing drug use or related health and crime harms, but this depends on specific combinations of contexts, mechanisms and outcomes.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1477370819887514
Uncontrolled keywords: Drugs; depenalisation; diversion; decriminalisation; realist review; programme theory; depenalization, decriminalization
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare > HV5800 Drug habits and abuse
K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Medway
Depositing User: Alex Stevens
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2019 10:57 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Oct 2020 08:29 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/77095 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Stevens, Alex: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4878-3871
Cassidy, Rebecca: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1006-9004
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