U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Trajectories to Mid- and Higher-level Drug Crimes: Penal Misrepresentations of Drug Dealers in Norway

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 54 Issue: 4 Dated: July 2014 Pages: 592-612
Victor L. Shammas; Sveinung Sandberg; Willy Pedersen
Date Published
July 2014
21 pages
Based on interviews with 60 incarcerated drug dealers in 6 prisons in southern, eastern, and western Norway, this study identified 4 trajectories and turning points for these drug dealers.
One trajectory identified is categorized as "criminal entrepreneurship." These are individuals who have engaged in a purposeful, rational weighing the costs and benefits of high-level drug dealing as a lucrative business. Rational pricing and risk strategies are used to minimize costs and maximize profits. Strategies for evading law enforcement are carefully planned, so they are not as likely to spend much time in prison as dealers with other trajectories. Three other trajectories were involved for the inmates interviewed. One category of drug offender experienced poor parenting, parental substance abuse, and early involvement with substance-using peers. For another category of drug offenders, marginalization processes began in adulthood, stemming from such crises as job loss and the termination of intimate relationships. For a fourth category of drug offender, drug dealing was interwoven with substance abuse. The authors' commentary on these findings notes that although Nordic countries are known for their moderation in sentencing severity, in the case of drug offenses, punishment is harsh based largely on the view that all drug offenders choose to deal drugs for profit by rational choice. This type of drug dealer, however, rarely ends up in prison because of his elusive tactics. The other categories of drug offenders, however, have trajectories similar to other offenders who are punished less harshly. The study concludes that in light of its findings, there are good reasons to rethink the excessively punitive approach to so-called mid-level and higher level drug offenses. Suggestions for further research are offered. 1 table and 82 references