Title

Distinguishing Between Effects of Criminality and Drug Use on Violent Offending

Date of Original Version

2000

Type

Working Paper

Abstract or Table of Contents

The alarming increase in lethal violence among young people in the U.S.-which is often attributed to drug use and drug trafficking-has prompted re-examination of the relationship between drugs and violent offending. While no national data exist, numerous local studies find a high prevalence of homicide deaths among identified drug addicts, a high prevalence of substance use-typically alcohol-among victims of homicide, and a high proportion of persons testing positive for drug use among arrestees for violent offenses. Other studies report large increases in drug-related homicides or other violence associated with drug distribution. In a departure from previous research that contrasts users and nonusers of drugs, or compares broad periods of heavy and light drug use during long addiction careers, the present study attempts to isolate more direct effects of drug use near the time of offending. The data are for a sample of adults arrested in Washington, DC from July 1, 1985 to June 30, 1986, and include their longitudinal arrest histories along with the results of urine drug screens administered following arrest.