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Juvenile Drug Traffickers: Characterization and Substance Use Patterns

NCJ Number
Free Inquiry in Creative Sociology Volume: 24 Issue: 1 Dated: May 1996 Pages: 3-10
C R McLaughlin; B W Smith; S M Reiner; D E Waite; A W Glover
Date Published
8 pages
Data from 240 juveniles incarcerated for drug trafficking offenses in Virginia were studied to determine their drug use patterns and to compare their delinquent, social, psychological, educational, and medical histories with those of a comparison group of 433 incarcerated youths.
The drug traffickers had all been adjudicated between June 1992 and June 1994. Study information came from court and correctional records. Results revealed that the most frequently sold drug was cocaine (93 percent), either powdered or crack, while alcohol and marijuana were the drugs most often used by the juvenile drug traffickers. In addition, the juvenile drug traffickers were associated with lower levels of aggressiveness, violence, and delinquency when compared to other incarcerated juveniles from their community. Moreover, the juvenile drug traffickers had higher ratings in several areas, including social and psychological functioning. Areas that did not correlate well with drug trafficking were physical health, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement. Findings indicated that juvenile drug traffickers tend not to use the drugs that they sell and that they generally present as higher functioning and better adjusted in almost every area evaluated, when compared to their incarcerated delinquent peers. Figures, tables, and 23 references (Author abstract modified)