Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Kristin M. Maiden
The term zero tolerance refers to a government or private employer's nondiscretionary enforcement policy that requires fixed penalties to be imposed on any violators regardless of extenuating circumstances. Zero-tolerance policies emerged from several federal- and state-level drug enforcement initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s. They have been applied in public schools, the military, and the private sector. During the Reagan and Bush administrations (1981–93), the War on Drugs campaign utilized a zero-tolerance policy to prohibit the illegal sale of drugs across U.S. borders. U.S. Customs and the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego initiated the policy for this “war.” Any individual crossing the United States-Mexico border arrested for possession of drugs received a mandatory prison sentence upon conviction. The U.S. Customs Service found this policy so effective in deterring future drug trafficking across the border that it recommended its national adoption. By 1988, the National Drug Policy Board and the ...