35 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 191 (1997-1998)
Social Organization and Drug Law Enforcement

handle is hein.journals/amcrimlr35 and id is 201 raw text is: SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND DRUG LAW ENFORCEMENT
Tracey L. Meares*
I.  INTRODUCTION  .......................................       191
II. COMMUNITY SOCIAL ORGANIZATION THEORY AND THE CURRENT
DRUG-LAW ENFORCEMENT REGIME ........................          194
A. A Theory of Community Social Organization ..............   194
B. Tough Sentences and Social Organization Improvement? ......  198
C. Tough Sentences and Social Organization Disruption? .......  205
D. Stigma, Linked Fate, and Multiple Roles: The Current
Drug-Law Enforcement Regime and Social Disorganization ...  211
III. SOCIAL ORGANIZATION AND A NEW DIRECTION FOR DRUG-LAW
ENFORCEMENT  POLICY ..................................        217
A.  Reverse  Stings  ....................................     220
B. Loitering  Ordinances  ...............................     223
IV.  CONCLUSION  .........................................       226
I. INTRODUCTION
Over half of a century ago, two Chicago School researchers, Clifford Shaw and
Henry McKay, argued in a seminal work that the structure of communities matters
more to explaining the occurrence of delinquency than do individual characteris-
tics of offenders. According to Shaw and McKay's social organization theory,
individual factors often correlated with crime-such as low economic status or
unemployment-do not themselves significantly impact crime. Rather, community-
level structures, such as friendship networks, participation in formal organizations
like PTAs and churches, and supervision of neighborhood teen peer groups,
mediate the impact of these factors on crime. Put another way, the structure of the
community in which an individual lives interacts in important ways to either
facilitate or retard that individual's criminal or delinquent behavior. In recognizing
the critical role of a community comprised primarily of law abiders in controlling
crime and delinquency, Shaw and McKay concluded that [i]ndividualized meth-
ods of treatment probably will not be successful in a sufficiently large number of
cases to result in any substantial diminution of the volume of delinquency and
* Assistant Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School. The Russell Baker Scholars Fund provided
financial support. I am grateful to Al Alschuler, Mary Becker, Emily Buss, Richard Craswell, Beth Garrett, Jack
Goldsmith, Dan Kahan, Martha Nussbaum, Stephen Schulhofer, David Wilkins, the Chicago Feminist Law
Professors and Friends, and participants in faculty workshops at the University of Chicago, Stanford, and the
University of Virginia Law Schools for their helpful comments on earlier drafts. Joshua Yount and Michael
Buckner provided excellent research assistance.

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