October 1, 1994
National Institute of Justice

In response to the illicit drug trade that became especially troublesome in the late 1980's and early 1990's, a remarkable community anti-drug movement has formed, with groups becoming active in some of the most afflicted neighborhoods. Armed only with their courage and imagination, citizens have devised a variety of clever strategies and tactics to reclaim their streets and parks from drug traffickers. This Research in Brief examines a number of factors that gave rise to these community anti-drug efforts and sustained them over time. A literature search and 13 onsite case studies revealed evidence of widespread grassroots community responses to illicit drugs. Even a cursory review supports the conclusion that these responses may represent an important asset in the Nation's assault on drugs. If policymakers could better understand how to harness this community capacity, society could unleash a potent vehicle for reclaiming drug-plagued cities from the dealers and users who hold them hostage.

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