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Similarity of Crime Rates Among Male Heroin Addicts in New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: (1991) Pages: 413-427
J C Ball
Date Published
15 pages
This study examined the similarity of crime rates among 617 heroin addicts in New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.
The sample was selected from six methadone maintenance programs in the three cities. The mean age of the sample at the first interview (in late 1985) was 36.6 years; 51.2 percent of the patients were black, 40.7 percent white, and 6.3 percent Hispanic. Mean years of heroin use was 11.2 years; this was supplemented by the use of other opiates as well as non-opiate drugs. This report presents the findings from an interview that focused on subjects' pretreatment criminality. The principal instrument used in the patient interviews was the Addiction Severity Index. It measures medical status, employment or support status, alcohol use, drug use, legal status, family and social relationships, and psychiatric status. Additional questions on drug abuse history, treatment experiences, and criminal behavior were included. Findings show that when "on the street" and addicted, the mean offense rates for addicts in New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore were, respectively, 603, 631, and 567 offenses per year. Their respective mean crime-days per year at risk were 217, 269, and 227. Similarities and differences between offense rates and lifetime arrest rates were also analyzed. The study concludes that aggregate crime rates, participation rates, and frequency of crime among addicts in the three cities were remarkably similar. 5 tables, 2 figures, and 13 references


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