Dr. Michele I. Naples, Professor of Economics at The College of New Jersey, recently had her work–a study focused on the economic impact of drug decriminalization in New Jersey–published in the Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy (Volume 19, Issue 2), and featured as an Op-Ed in The Star Ledger on August 1, 2022.
The piece argues that decriminalizing drugs would save New Jersey more than $1 billion, and that money should be used to fund safe drug-use zones that offer healing services, as well as reinvest in marginalized communities negatively impacted by the Drug War. Though drugs would still be illegal, the ramifications for their use would be different–and more fiscally responsible. Dr. Naples says most of the savings would be the result of reduced policing (citing drug users instead of arresting them, for example), decreased incarceration, parole, or probation expenses, and by averting costly injected-drug health consequences such as hepatitis-C, HIV, and overdoses.
Further, Dr. Naples suggests shifting from a punishment-focused strategy to a public health strategy provides desperately needed hope for remedying both the Drug War’s racist culture and New Jersey’s ongoing opioid crisis. Her policy proposal seeks to accomplish those goals in a way that saves the state sufficient funds to make the cultural and socioeconomic changes it has been unable to make thus far.