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Toward a Drugs and Crime Research Agenda for the 21st Century

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2003
203 pages
This report contains three separate papers commissioned for a research forum conducted by the National Institute of Justice and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Progress towards solving the problems of crime and drugs requires an examination as to whether the relationship is cause and effect or more complex. A 2001 research forum conducted by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) was attended by experts in epidemiology, public policy, social work, and allied disciplines. Research papers served as the focal point and framework for discussions by forum participants, and the first paper addresses intersections of public health and criminal justice research on the topic of drugs and crime. Focusing on marijuana, heroin, cocaine, codeine, and oxycodone, this paper presents several conceptual models illustrating the drugs-crime relationship. The authors suggests there is no single drug crimes relationship nor is there a simple solution to the challenges faced by drugs-crime relationships. The authors argue that their two dimensional grid of quantity, location, causes, mechanism, and prevention and control of drugs indicates that genes, individual organisms, social groups, and nations and global regions are all areas with significant gaps in research whose spaces need filling in order to better address the drug-crime relationship. The next paper addressing the drugs-crime link focuses on the association between drugs and crime in the public mind. Detailing the Paul Goldstein tripartite classification of drugs-violence as psychopharmacological, economic-compulsive, and systematic, the report notes that there are limitations in existing research on the Goldstein framework and that greater attention needs to be paid to the role of drug use in criminal victimization. The authors argue that much work needs to be done in order to build on Goldstein’s useful taxonomy. The last paper presents a topical, systematic review of recent, pertinent literature addressing the drugs-crime relationship. This literature review indicates that many authors of governmental reports are largely unaware of research reports funded by other agencies and concludes that such cooperation is essential to addressing the complex research needed in drugs-crime analysis. A series of appendices containing forum proceedings, the forum’s agenda, and a list of the names of individuals and organizations who participated completes this report.

Date Published: September 1, 2003