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Drug Policy and Community Context: The Case of Small Cities and Towns

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 42 Issue: 2 Dated: (April 1996) Pages: 206- 222
Date Published
17 pages

Drug problems and antidrug initiatives in small cities and town in the United States were analyzed with respect to the importance of drug problems in small jurisdictions, compared with other problems; the types of drug problems reported; the most important antidrug programs; and other issues.


Data for the main study were collected from a nationally representative sample of 157 small cities and towns with populations between 5,000 and 50,000. Telephone interviews were conducted with 154 law enforcement officials, 151 education administrators, 130 government officials, and 141 community leaders. In the 150 communities that reported at least one antidrug effort, a telephone interview was conducted with a program representative. Results revealed that economic issues and school matters were the main concerns in these communities. However, these small city and town residents tended to express concern about drugs. They perceived their drug problems as involving alcohol and marijuana, particularly as risks for community youth, but largely hidden from public view rather than threateningly open and visible. Most of the antidrug efforts deemed most important were education and prevention efforts rather than those oriented to law enforcement. Findings suggested the usefulness of Federal efforts to disseminate information on antidrug initiatives and the importance of assessing Federal and State economic development assistance to smaller jurisdictions to determine what might be done to help small town residents ensure their futures. Tables, notes, and 11 references

Date Published: January 1, 1996