"Law enforcement is based on a very simple principle premise: there is a perpetrator and a victim. The police catch the accused perpetrator and put him or her in jail. The courts then decide the guilt or innocence of the accused and an appropriate punishment if guilty. This protects the victim and others from further victimization and keeps the perpetrator from further perpetrations.
A serious problem arises when the accused perpetrator and the victim are one and the same. Such is the case with consensual crimes. When the police put the accused in jail, they are putting the victim in jail too. How, then, can the police protect the victim? Law enforcement, thus preverted, begins to deteriorate.
With a real crime, the genuine victim goes to the police and reports it. The police then set about to catch the criminal. With a consensual crime, who reports the crime? Obviously, no one directly involved. Everyone consented to it; they're not going to be complaining to the police. The police, then, must become spies, busybodies, and entrappers in order to catch consensual criminals victimizing themselves. Imagine how demoralizing and corrupting this entire procedure can be to both police and society.
As Jackson Eli Reynolds reported in The Washington Post,
Drug offenses... may be regarded as the prototypes of non-victim crimes today. They private nature of the sale and use of drugs has led the police to resort to methods of detection and surveillance that intrude upon our privacy, including illegal search, eavesdropping, and entrapment.
Indeed, the successful prosecution of such cases often requires police infringement of the constitutional protections that safeguard the privacy of individuals."
And, thus, people see the police not as preventing crimes, but seeking them out. They don't immediately think to tell the police everything, as they may have to hide their own victimless behaviour. Trust in and respect for the police as protectors of the innocent enters a downward spiral. Maybe not with everyone - not with the socially conservative, not with the corrupt... but with enough.
Is this something we really want to be perpetuating with our drug policies?
Once again, this quote is from (and my insight is inspired by) Ain't Nobody's Business if you Do
Go on, move it to the top of your reading list. You know you want to.