Dixon's "The House that Crack Built" invites reflections on at least three sets of questions. First, is drug abuse and drug-related crime more or less common today than it was in the 1980s? Second, what is known about the efficacy of drug treatment programs in reducing substance abuse and crime? Third, what help can enthnographic studies be in understanding and shaping the next generation of drug policies? Briefly, let me sketch answers to each of these questions.
Despite decades of debate and countless efforts at reform, the future of America's correctional system looks almost as bleak as its past. In the 1980s, the nation's incarceration rate more than doubled. Today the U.S. prison population is soaring toward 800,000, and nearly 4 million citizens -- including one of every nine adult African-American males -- is under some form of correctional supervision (in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole). By some definitions, most prisons and jails are overcrowded; by any definition, many of them are filthy, violence-ridden, and lacking in programs that afford inmates a meaningful opportunity to work, achieve literacy, or free themselves from the shackles of substance abuse.