• The War on Drugs: Unintended Consequences
Jonathan Ball, asophomore studying Sociology; Andrea Blasdale a graduate student in the Crime and Justice Studies program; and Christos Koutrobis a junior studying Sociology

12/17/2012

What do college students in Boston know about drug policy in Mexico? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Three Suffolk sociology students – two undergraduates and one student in the crime and justice studies master’s program – recently conducted research on the unintended consequences of US policy on the Mexican drug trade and presented their findings at the American Society of Criminology national conference in Chicago.

Professor Maureen Norton-Hawk encourages students in her International Drug Control course to critically examine the successes and failures of the global “War on Drugs.” With Norton-Hawk’s support, undergraduates Jon Ball and Christos Koutrobis teamed up with graduate student Andrea Blasdale to study the effects of the Merida Initiative, legislation designed to stem the flow of narcotics from Mexico and Central America to the US.

What they found through an extensive literature review, says Norton-Hawk, was evidence that the well-intentioned initiative actually contributes to higher murder, trafficking, and poverty rates.

The students received rave reviews on their poster presentation as they networked with leaders in their field.

“Discussing our findings with colleagues from around the country was an incredible experience,” explains Blasdale, a conference veteran who enjoyed seeing Ball and Koutrobis experience their first turn on the national stage.

“Even when experts from other areas disagreed with us on policy recommendations, we could have a meaningful debate knowing our methods and data were solid.”

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