U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Distinguishing Between Effects of Criminality and Drug Use on Violent Offending

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1999
75 pages
Data from a sample of adults arrested in Washington, D.C., from July 1, 1985 to June 30, 1996 were used to determine the effects of drug use on violent offending.
The data focused on the impacts of the use of heroin, cocaine, and PCP and included the participants' longitudinal arrest histories and the results of urinalysis conducted following the arrest. The analysis sought to determine changes in the rates at which arrests occurred for various offense types and the relationship of these rate changes to individuals' drug-use status at the time of successive arrests. Results revealed broad inhibiting effects of heroin and cocaine use on most types of offending; aggravating effects on predatory offending (robbery and burglary) during withdrawal from cocaine use, and both short-term and long-term aggravating effects of PCP use on most types of offending, including personal violence. Findings suggested that interventions intended to reduce heroin and cocaine use are not likely to have an impact on offending levels, whereas strategies that selectively target interventions on reducing PCP use are likely to have a greater impact in reducing crime. However, the study had several limitations that suggest the need for caution in interpreting the results. Tables, figures, appended methodological information, and 90 references

Date Published: December 1, 1999