Across the Americas, drug policies have failed to make a significant dent in the drug trade, while corruption and organized crime continue to thrive. At the same time, these harmful drug policies disproportionately fall on the most vulnerable, including poor women who often enter the drug trade because of desperation, lack of opportunity, and coercion. Stuck in a vicious cycle, the incarceration of these women only heightens their situation of vulnerability and takes a toll on their families and communities.

Global Innovative Approaches highlights various programs and legal reforms from around the world that promote more effective and humane drug policies. The examples include alternatives to incarceration for low-level, non-violent drug offenders, policy reforms, and health and social programs. Many of the briefs analyze programs specifically tailored toward women in conditions of vulnerability. While the details of each approach vary, their goal is to reduce incarceration rates, protect human rights, address public health concerns related to drug use, and assist individuals in transitioning back into their communities after their release.

Each Innovative Approach includes background information and a description of the program or reform, in addition to a section detailing outcomes and results. It is important to note, however, that while some of the approaches highlighted in this series have gone through rigorous review processes, others lack the resources to carry out formal evaluations. Despite this reality, the examples put forward in this series have all shown promise in their results.

While these programs are promising, they should not come at the expense of broader drug policy reform. Yet, in the absence of more comprehensive reforms, these innovations can assist communities caught up in vicious cycles of poverty, social exclusion, drug use, involvement in the drug trade, and incarceration.