After an overview of the drug/crime connection and a description of the methodology of the Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) program, this study identifies homogeneous clusters of drug users from a Philadelphia population of 1,329 arrestees, followed by a discussion of the policy implications of these classifications.
The relationship between illicit drug use and criminal activity has been repeatedly documented over the past few decades; however, there continues to be debate over whether drugs are contributing factors, correlates, or determinants of criminality. The DUF program is a measurement system established by the National Institute of Justice to test booked arrestees for illegal drug use. DUF has consistently shown high levels of illicit drug use among arrestees, including those charged with crimes unrelated to drug use. DUF data were used to cluster a sample of 1,329 Philadelphia arrestees. Six categories of drug users were identified. "Dope fiends" (n=156) had the highest rate of use for injectable-central-nervous-system (CNS) drugs and noninjectable-CNS drugs. "Zombies" (n=151) had high rates of use of both injectable and noninjectable CNS drugs, although they had the lowest need or rate of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their crimes. "Converters" (n=77) had a high rate of need or of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the commission of their crimes. "Injectors" (n=284) had the lowest rate of abuse of easily obtainable noninjectable CNS drugs and moderately low rates of need or of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol during their crimes. "Recreational users" (n=490) had moderately low use of both injectable and noninjectable CNS drugs and generally had low need or rate of committing their crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Finally, "enablers" (n=171) had low use of both injectable and noninjectable CNS drugs while noting a high rate of need and/or of being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while committing their crimes. The discussion of policy implications advises that offenders use and rely on a variety of different drugs for a variety of purposes. As such, they cannot be treated as if their drug issues are invariant. 4 tables, 12 notes, and 21 references
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