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약물문제를 해결하기 위해 미국은 그동안 단속 위주의 정책을 취해왔다. 그 방법으로 해외제조조직과 거대유통조직을 수사하고 공급을 차단하는 조치를 추진하였다. 그렇지만 이러한 공급차단정책에 한계를 느끼게 되면서 미국 의회와 정부는 수요를 억제하는 방향으로 관심을 돌리게 되었다. 약물의 제조 및 공급사범에 대한 철저한 단속과 처벌도 중요하지만, 약물남용자에 대하여는 치료나 재활에 중점을 두는 정책 전환이 필요하다는 인식을 갖게 된 것이다. 약물남용자나 중독자를 치료의 대상으로 보는 관점이 확산됨에 따라, 다양한 방식에 의한 대체처우와 치료처우가 도입되었다. 그러나 약물사범에 대한 비형사적 처우에는 재원의 마련과 같은 새로운 문제점이 잠복하고 있었다. 그러면서 약물범죄에 대하여는 예방, 교육, 홍보 등의 수요를 억제하기 위한 사전적인 지원활동과 치료에 더해 재활, 재사회화를 위한 사후적 지원활동이 병행되어야 함을 절감하게 되었다. 지금까지의 미국의 대약물정책은 공급억제분야와 수요억제분야 모두에서 법을 통한 단속에만 지나치게 의존하였고, 예방, 교육, 치료 등을 통한 수요억제의 노력을 충분히 못했을 뿐만 아니라 효율적인 국제협력관계의 구축에도 실패하였다는 평가를 받는다. 그 결과 오늘날 미국인들은 약물문제에 위기의식을 가지게 되었으며, 이에 반동하여 약물의 합법화도 주장되고 있다. 약물범죄에서 우리가 특히 관심을 가져야 하는 부분은 사법절차의 처리문제이다. 즉 교정과 치료처우를 어떻게 형사절차와 조화시킬 것인가는 약물정책의 방향을 갈라주는 분기점이 된다. 미국에서는 아직까지도 약물범죄에 대한 금지와 단속의 중요성이 변함없이 견지되고 있다. 미국에서 벌어진 약물범죄를 둘러싼 제 문제는 우리나라에서도 거의 유사하게 진행되는 양상을 보이고 있다. 따라서 미국이 약물정책을 위해 입법하고, 단속하며, 또 교정처우를 수행하면서 다져온 여러 경험들은 우리에게도 유용한 지침이 된다고 할 수 있다. 미국의 대약물범죄에 대한 투쟁과 치료처우를 살펴보는 일은 그런 점에서 소정의 의미를 찾을 수 있으리라 본다.


More than 2.3 million adults are now behind bars in the U.S., representing 1 out of every 100 adult Americans. Drug abuse has driven much of the explosion in the inmate population. It is no secret that prison has accomplished little to stem the tide of crime or drug abuse. Upon their release from prison, a lot of drug abusers commit a new crime and relapse quickly to drug abuse. More than half will be returned to prison in a now familiar revolving door pattern. As a result of growing prisoner populations, the increases in the number of inmates taking part in drug abuse programs were more dramatic. Substance abuse treatment includes detoxification, professional counseling, a residential stay, or maintenance drug programs. Other programs include Narcotic Anonymous, other self-help groups, and drug education or awareness. Nearly two-thirds of jail inmates who were substance dependent or abusers had participated while under correctional supervision. The view that addiction was a treatable illness gained renewed popularity with lawmakers in the 1960s. The Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act in 1966 diverted some addicts charged with federal crimes into a civil process of treatment and rehabilitation. In order to clarify federal drug policy, Congress later combined various disparate enforcement laws into a single statute, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act adopted in 1970. This legislation dealt with prevention and treatment of drug abuse as well as with the interdiction of drug traffic. The Controlled Substances Act is included in the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. These statutes together provide federal funding to various programs for the prevention of drug abuse and for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug abusers. In adopting these acts Congress aimed to coordinate a national strategy and establish a framework of federal, state, and local partnerships to combat drug abuse. The various amendments have extended programs to respond to changing patterns of drug abuse. During the 1980s the federal war on drugs gathered strength and brought a renewal in the punitive approach to drug abuse. President G. Bush began to focus national efforts on a comprehensive drug enforcement strategy that targeted both supply and demand reduction. On one hand, his strategy called for the DEA and other federal agencies to work with their counterparts overseas and at home to reduce the supply of drugs in the country. While the vast majority of Americans supported DEA's efforts and the national anti-drug strategy, a number of states passed referendums to permit their residents to use drugs for a variety of reasons, particularly the use of marijuana for supposed medicinal purposes. A difficult challenge to DEA that unfolded in the period 2003-2008 was prescription drug abuse and diversion. The source of supply for these drugs of abuse typically was not a street dealer, but the Internet. DEA also focused regulatory and enforcement efforts on wholesale distributors who were linked to rogue Internet pharmacies. The proponents of a medical response to addiction have often competed with the proponents of a punitive, or punishment, model of law enforcement. Although in the years subsequent to the various legislations and DEA's in eager operation the nation saw a marked reduction in the rate of increase of drug abuse, the apparent continuing spread of drug abuse indicated to Congress that the need for more effective and visible federal leadership was ongoing. This leadership has come through periodic amendments to the present statute that extended prevention education and treatment programs.