Drug Policy, Education, and Decriminalization Project

DECrim (Drug Policy, Education, and Decriminalization Project) SLP Logo

The purpose of DECrim is to research, identify, and advocate against procedural and substantive barriers in the criminal legal system that contribute to the increased criminalization of drug use across the United States. The impact of punitive drug policies on mass incarceration is well known, but less discussed are the machinations within the system that perpetuate the increased arrests and incarceration of people who use drugs. DECrim aims to shine a light on these legal challenges, giving legal advocates the tools to better litigate these issues in the courtroom. We focus on drug policy as a health issue, centering autonomy over criminalization. DECrim conducts our research through a critical, anti-racist lens and aims to center the experiences of those most affected by the War on Drugs in its research and work product.

Members of the DECrim project will participate in substantive, legal research to support the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). Our supervising attorneys will provide issue-specific training to prepare students for the semester’s projects. Students can contribute to issue briefs, which summarize scientific evidence and recent case law, such as the nature of addiction, and research on evidentiary issues in drug convictions and sentencing. Time can also be spent on blog posts, which provide an opportunity for students to summarize these issue briefs for educational purposes. Our work is flexible based on DPA’s needs, but our mission is consistent: decriminalization, autonomy, and public health. Students can expect to build skills in legal research and writing, as well as a familiarity with the drug policy landscape.    

Supervision: Students will be supervised by attorneys at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per semester (1 hour biweekly team meeting and roughly 2 hours of work per week)

For more information, please contact the student leaders at decrim@berkeley.edu.