Kenneth Crispin | LEAP | Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

About Kenneth Crispin

Retired Supreme Court Judge
The Hon. Dr. Ken Crispin, QC

Sydney, Australia

Ken Crispin is a retired Supreme Court Judge of Australia. Author of the book ‘Quest for Justice’, he has a wealth of legal experience as a prosecutor of violent criminals, an attorney for high-profile defendants such as Lindy and Michael Chamberlain (“the dingo baby case”), and finally as a judge on the Australian Capital Territory Court of Appeal.

Dr. Crispin commenced practice as a Sydney barrister in 1973. In his early years, he built up a diverse practice that included regular criminal trials conducted before juries. He became a Queen’s Counsel in 1988 and was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions for the Australian Capital Territory in 1991. After decades of practice on both sides of the bar, he was appointed a Supreme Court judge in 1997 and President of the A.C.T. Court of Appeal in 2001. He also chaired the A.C.T. Law Reform Commission between 1996 and 2006 and was a member of the governing council of the Judicial Conference of Australia in 2006 and 2007.

The conclusion that legalization is the smartest solution to the problems of drugs was one that Dr. Crispin came to reluctantly. But the parallels were too strong. “If you look at the alcohol prohibition era,” he explains, “it was confidently assumed that prohibition would cut down on the supply of alcohol. But all it did was place a great deal of money in the hands of flourishing criminal gangs. The same has happened on a grander scale with drugs.”

Dr. Crispin, who says he understands people’s initial abhorrence to the idea of legal “hard” drugs, cites the failure of the war on drugs as a simple fact; not only have drug problems gotten steadily worse over the past 40 years, but the countries who have pursued the strictest prohibitionist policies have paid the most in terrible consequences. He lists some of those consequences: overcrowded prisons; children deprived of one of their parents; people turned away from rehab centers; and an intensely profitable criminal pyramid selling scheme, among many others. For these reasons, Dr. Crispin joined LEAP in 2010.

In his spare time, Dr. Crispin completed a PhD in legal ethics and wrote two books, numerous papers and articles on legal topics and the libretto for an opera. He retired in later 2007. He is married with three children and three grandchildren. His most recent book, 'The Quest for Justice', was released in 2010. It challenges many of the common assumptions about the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, including those underlying the war on drugs.