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Effects of Alcohol Intoxication on Violent Versus Other Offending

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 37 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2010 Pages: 1343-1360
Richard B. Felson; Jeremy Staff
Date Published
December 2010
18 pages
This study examined the relationship between drinking alcohol and violence.
The role of alcohol intoxication in different types of criminal behavior was examined using data from a nationally representative sample of inmates (N = 16,698). An attempt was made to isolate the effects of intoxication on violent criminal behavior by controlling for chronic alcohol use and prior offending. The results suggested that intoxication plays its strongest role in homicide and physical and sexual assault but that it also plays a role in robbery and burglary. Dosage effects also provided supporting evidence: The more intoxicated the offender, the greater the effect. However, alcohol played a role in homicide and physical assault even when offenders drank in moderation. The evidence was most consistent with the idea that alcohol has stronger effects on offenses that involve personal confrontation and are therefore more risky. Evidence also suggested that alcohol effects are stronger for dispute-related violence in part because victims are also likely to be intoxicated. (Published Abstract)