Punitive sentencing for drug-related offences are a documented driver of escalating incarceration rates in Western Europe and North America. Sentencing procedures are often disproportionate and discriminatory in their application and impact, particularly as these relate to women, ethnic minorities and foreign nationals. As part of a new initative to reduce the US prison population and address inequalities in drug-related sentencing, President Obama has instructed the US Justice Department to accelerate commutation processes for non-violent drug offenders. 

The already serious rights issues surrounding the treatment of foreign nationals convicted of drug related offences are being compounded by the introduction of strict deportation regimes in the US, UK and a number of other Western countries. These demonstrate a growing interdependence between drug and immigration control, they threaten to offset the positive moves toward criminal justice reform in the US and they undermine the fundamental rights of prisoners.

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