Criminologist Peter Reuter of the University of Maryland and former Swiss Confederation president Ruth Dreifuss have won the 2019 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for their work on drug abuse. The prize, awarded since 2006, recognizes outstanding achievements in research or the application of research results for the reduction of crime and the advancement of human rights. The international jury for the prize recognized both an elected official and a policy scholar “for shaping more realistic choices about drug abuse.” The prizes will be presented June 11 in Stockholm.
Jurors cited Reuter and Dreifuss’ work as “champions of creating better evidence, including field tests, of the effects of drug policy innovations on crime and harm.” The Australian-born Reuter has spent decades examining the relationship between drug policy and crime. The prize’s sponsors said “his studies on the effects of enforcement on drug prices and availability found that many of the benefits of prohibition can be achieved with light enforcement, while tough enforcement alone can increase crime without reducing drug consumption.” From 1981 to 1993 he worked at the RAND Corporation, where he founded the RAND Drug Policy Center. Dreifuss, head of her country’s Department of Home Affairs from 1993 to 2002 and President of the Swiss Confederation in 1999, was called “the principal political defender of a seminal set of experiments to test whether an innovation in the treatment of heroin users could help mitigate the crime and health problems of prohibition.” Individuals who had failed in methadone treatment programs were offered Heroin-Assisted Therapy (HAT), the opportunity to inject heroin provided by the state in medically supervised facilities. The evidence showed that HAT greatly reduced the criminality of clients while improving their health. HAT is a routinely available treatment in Switzerland. Dreifuss is President of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.