UMKC Law Review


Jackson County, Missouri has been at the forefront of drug policy reform for decades, with the establishment of one of America's first Drug Courts in the early 1990s. This Article will delve into the impact of the county's shift in drug policy on the drug court model, both positive and negative, and where the county expects to go in the future. We will examine what we currently understand about drugs, including the destructive effects of drugs on individuals and their families, the history of the War on Drugs and its lack of impact, and the statistics on drug crimes and charges in Jackson County. Furthermore, the article will examine the data from the Kansas City Police Department's ("KCPD") approach to drugs and the racial disparities in those arrests.

Based on the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office data analysis, policing drug users is not an evidence-based mechanism to addressing violent crime and it is harmful to communities of color and those who are economically disadvantaged. Attitudes of Americans toward drugs has changed substantially over the years; a number of cities and states are decriminalizing or legalizing certain substances, including Missouri. As the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office addresses these changes and weighs our data, our goal remains to build a criminal justice system that promotes safety, reduces harm to individuals and communities, and promotes rehabilitation and equity. By rethinking the traditional approach to drug offenses, the Prosecutor's Office aims to achieve better outcomes for everyone involved.