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Disproportionate Sentencing of Minority Drug Offenders in Illinois: Report on Changes in Drug Laws 1985-2002

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2005
15 pages
This second in a series of four complementary reports on the disproportionate confinement of minority drug offenders in Illinois presents the major components of Illinois’ drug laws as originally drafted, as well as additions and enhancements to those laws that were enacted from 1985 to 2002.

In presenting the content of Illinois’ drug laws, this paper does not intend to infer any direct casual relationship between the laws themselves and any resulting racial disparities in sentencing under those laws. In presenting the history of Illinois drug-law enhancements, this paper intends to show the changing legal framework for drug-law sentencing in the State as a foundation for future policy and legislative discussions that focus on reducing racial disparities in such sentencing. A section on the “History of Drug Laws in Illinois” focuses on the three most common violations of the Controlled Substances Act: possession, manufacture, and delivery. Other sections of the report address “General Statutory Construction;” “Possession Offenses,” “Historical Changes to Possession Laws;” “MDPI Offenses” (manufacture, delivery, or possession with the intent to manufacture or deliver); “Historical Changes to MDPI Laws;” “Other Controlled Substances Offenses;” and Other Enhancements and Provisions.” This preliminary review of Illinois drug law shows that Illinois, like most States, has enacted increasingly more punitive drug laws over the past 20 years. The enforcement and prosecution of these laws have resulted in the imprisonment of increasing numbers of drug offenders. Future reports in this series will analyze the impact of these laws on the individuals and communities where drug use and drug crime are part of the daily life of residents, contributing to a disproportionate police presence and enforcement of drug laws in these communities. These communities are likely to be poor and occupied by large percentages of racial minorities. 65 notes

Date Published: November 1, 2005