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Race Differences in Drug Offending and Drug Distribution Arrests

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency 63(2) Volume: 63 Issue: 2 Dated: 2017 Pages: 91-112
Ojmarrh Mitchell; Michael S. Caudy
Date Published
January 2017
22 pages
This study examined the degree to which race differences in drug offending, non-drug offending, and community context explain race differences in the likelihood of experiencing a drug distribution arrest in a longitudinal sample of youthful respondents (age 12-29).
The War on Drugs' emphasis on apprehending low-level drug offenders dramatically increased the number of arrests for drug distribution and exacerbated racial and ethnic disparities in such arrests. Although these disparities have been the topic of much discussion, they rarely have been the subject of multivariate empirical scrutiny. The current study's findings indicate that compared to White drug offenders, Hispanic drug offenders' greater likelihood of arrest was largely due to differences in community context; however, African Americans' greater likelihood of arrest is not explained by differences in offending or community context. The policy implications of these findings are discussed. (Publisher abstract modified)