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Need Drugs, Will Travel?: The Distances to Crime of Illegal Drug Buyers

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 3 Dated: May/June 2013 Pages: 178-187
Lallen T. Johnson; Ralph B. Taylor; Jerry H. Ratcliffe
Date Published
June 2013
10 pages
This study examined whether types of drugs purchased by illegal drug buyers was conditioned on the distance required to purchase the drugs.
This study explored the types of drugs purchased by illegal drug buyers and whether the types of drugs purchased was conditioned upon several factors, including distance to the drug market. Study findings include the following: regardless of drug type, White travelled anywhere from 33 percent to 42 percent farther than Blacks in order to purchase drugs; Hispanics' distances to drug buys were significantly shorter than other racial groups, but only for the purpose of buying heroin; females travelled shorter distances than males for the purpose of buying marijuana and cocaine; on average, trips to heroin purchase arrest were twice as long as trips for marijuana and cocaine purchase arrest; and drug buyers with higher arrest rates travelled longer distances for the purpose of purchasing drugs compared to other groups. The study also found that arrests for the purchase of illegal drugs were more likely to occur closer to the home of the arrestee. These findings suggest that crime pattern theory can be used to predict drug purchasing behavior by buyers of illicit drugs. Data for the study were obtained from analysis of drug purchase arrest data sourced from the Camden (NJ) Police Department for the years 2005 through 2007. Data from 4,433 incidents were examined to determine which factors correlated with likelihood of arrest: type of drug involved, arrestee age, date of arrest, arrestee gender and race, offense location, and arrestee home address. Study limitations and implications for policy are discussed. Figure, tables, notes, and references


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