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Urban and Rural Differences in the Relationship Between Substance Use and Violence

NCJ Number
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology Volume: 48 Issue: 5 Dated: October 2004 Pages: 613-628
Sarah Goodrum; H. Jean Wiese; Carl G. Leukefeld
Date Published
October 2004
16 pages
This study of 637 male inmates in 4 Kentucky prisons tested the following hypotheses: The link between substance use and violence will be more pronounced among inmates from urban areas than those from both rural and Appalachian areas; and the link between substance use and violence toward intimate partners will be more pronounced among inmates from Appalachian regions than those from non-Appalachian regions.
Those inmates selected for the study all had a history of substance abuse, and all were scheduled for parole hearings between June 1998 and August 1999. Appalachian inmates were from counties that had experienced severe economic decline and out-migration due to significant unemployment among those who worked in the coal and lumber industries of these counties. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews that focused on lifetime and current health problems and treatment, including treatment for alcohol and drug problems, as well as location of residence prior to entering prison. An urban place was defined as one with a population of 50,000 or more or one identified as urbanized by the 1990 U.S. Census. A rural area was viewed as having a population of 2,500 to 49,999 and not within an urbanized area as determined by the U.S. Census. Places with a population of less than 2,500 persons and outside of an urbanized area were defined as "very rural." Substance-use and violence measures both focused on behavior in the year prior to incarceration. Contrary to the hypotheses, the population size of the inmate's residence location or living in Appalachia was not significantly associated with his level of violence victimization, violence toward others, violence toward intimate partners, or overall violence in the year prior to incarceration. These findings suggest that the subculture of place of residence need not be a primary focus in treatment for substance use/violence. 3 tables and 20 references