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Dynamics of the Drug-Crime Relationship

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2000
68 pages
This chapter explores changes and continuities in the drug-crime relationship during the past several decades.
First, it discusses the relationship in a historical context, as it highlights changes in U.S. Federal policy. Next, it examines the key methodological issues involved in empirically understanding the drug-crime connection. This section identifies inconsistencies in definitions and measurement of key variables and discusses the advantages and limitations of alternative sampling frames. The authors then trace trends in drug use and crime over time by using national and city-level data sets. These data show that trends vary by city and that there is no uniform association between any type of drug use and any type of crime. The chapter then presents general theoretical models of the drug-crime connection, including theories that drug use causes crime, that crime leads to drug use, and that both drug use and crime are caused by the same factors. Next, the chapter reviews the empirical research that supports and refutes these explanatory models. The review concludes that one single model cannot account for the drug-crime relationship. Rather, the drug using, crime committing population is heterogeneous, and there are multiple paths that lead to drug use and crime. The chapter concludes with a discussion of policy options and implications for the next century. 3 exhibits and 237 references

Date Published: January 1, 2000