Drugs – The Link to Crimes

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There is a link if you look back at the broken window theory on crime, a link that would apply to our current issues in American society in dealing with narcotics, crime and criminals. A century ago things were a bit different. The types and quantities of street level drugs were just not there, this is a crucial thing that should be considered when we start looking at current crime trends and causes. When people first found gold in the hills of California and Alaska, most if not all of the crimes then could be linked back directly to the gold, and greed, or as some would say the gold addiction. America today is a largely different place than it was back then, better in some ways, and worse in others. People still have needs. And desires, which can lead to addiction, and the availability of many drugs makes it easy. The problems surface as with so many things when the money is needed to obtain those objects of desire. When the money runs out, the need and want remains, and people will do mostly anything to get the money as satisfy that need. This can lead to prostitution, robberies, burglaries, thefts, and even murder, as we so often seen now in the border town of Juarez Mexico. The broken window theory basically showed a link with all the crime in a general area, like a neighborhood, to a broken window on a vacant home. People would see vandalism being done to the home, and turned a blind eye to it. The community showed that they did not care, which led to people hanging out in the home, doing more vandalism, then prostitutes would use it, then drug dealing. At each step the community failed to care, and all the crime could be linked back to the one, the first broken window. Like the broken window theory, is there a link with amount of crimes committed in the US and narcotics, the use and sales of drugs? If we pay attention and try to repair the broken window of our communities today (drugs), will this make a difference in the crime rate of the United States? Getting rid of the addiction, the supply and desire would lower crime rates. The United States is the number one consumer of illegal narcotics worldwide. So, it should be no surprise that there is a huge addiction problem across the country. Criminals across the globe will do anything to get their product to the customer; this basic supply and demand system is wreaking havoc on the streets of America. The users will do just about anything to get what they desire, when they run out of money, this leads to thefts, robberies, burglaries, and even murder. The street level dealers will break every law in the book to ensure they meet the demand. The people need solutions to the want and desire, if the treatment to the addiction works, there is a drop in the need for the drugs, and the demand drops, and some studies have shown, so does the crime rate. The National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study, was a five-year analysis of 5,388 subjects in treatment programs funded by the (SAMHSA’s) Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, looked at subjects various of settings, including methadone maintenance, outpatient drug-free, short-term residential, long-term residential and correctional treatment. Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. 9/16/96, Vol. 8 Issue 36, p1. 2p. This study proved a link between treatments of the addiction, which then led to sharply lower levels of crime following the treatment. There was a large and noticeable drop in the percentage of respondents selling drugs, committing shopliftings and many assaults. The study showed that there is a huge gap between the cost of imprisoning drug offenders and that of treating them. Getting the addicts treated, and in counseling cost approximately one tenth of putting the same people in prison. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey that drug treatment “improves lives, strengthens families and increases productivity — it makes sense. At the same time, it saves dollars across a broad spectrum of federal government programs, including housing, welfare, health care and criminal justice.” There is perhaps another route to help reduce the drug related crime circle. A vast majority of criminal drug cases in the United States is related to marijuana. Many argue that the drug should be legalized, taxed and controlled in the same way cigarettes are. Legalizing the use and sales of marijuana, would in fact take the dealers, and private growers out of the picture, and possibly generate a ton of extra revenue for the nation. The other noted benefit would be the millions and millions of dollars saved by not jailing, and prosecuting the marijuana offenders. “Legalization advocates argue that repealing drug prohibitions would cut crime by eliminating black markets, by removing users and sellers from the criminal world, and by making resources now used to capture and imprison dealers and users available for use in enforcement efforts against predatory crime.” Boyum, D., & Kleiman, M. R. (2003) Boyum and Kleiman showed a link between the reduction of drug use and the reduction of crime, but when it came to marijuana users and sellers there was not a drastic drop in crime. They found that the highest rates of change were with cocaine, and heroine users. Cocaine, heroine and meth users are affected in far different ways than someone using marijuana. They are far more likely to engage in violent crimes while under the influence of the drug, and become severely addicted. So the focus with users of these “hard” drugs would fall back on prevention and treatment. With the proper help and eradication of the hard drugs there was a noted drop in crime. There was another study, which took place in Nebraska, and investigated the role of drug use on the rate of criminal offending (Horney, Osgood, & Marshall, 1995). In this study 658 male offenders were interviewed about their criminal activity using a version of the Rand Corporation’s (Chaiken & Chaiken, 1982) Second Inmate Survey instrument. The survey found that the use of illegal narcotics was significantly linked to all follow on crimes committed (i.e., any crime, property crime, assault and drug crime). The study showed that the drug users were about 15 times more likely to engage in drug crime when they used illegal drugs, were 54% more likely to commit a property crime, and 100% more likely assault someone during those months when drugs were used compared to months when drugs were not used. There are numerous other studies, papers and articles in circulation that all point to the link between drugs and crime. It could then be concluded that if better treatment facilities, and drug policies are looked at and put in place, then there should be follow on effect, which would be a reduction in crime rates. References Boyum, D., & Kleiman, M. R. (2003). Breaking the drug-crime link. Public Interest, (152), 19. Chaiken, J.M., & Chaiken, M.R. (1982). Varieties of criminal behavior: Summary and policy implications. Santa Monica, CA: The Rand Corporation. Horney, J., Osgood, D.W., & Marshall, I.H. (1995). Criminal careers in the short-term: Intra-individual variability in crime and its relation to local life circumstances. American Sociological Review, 60(5), 655-673. SAMHSA study links treatment to drops in drug use, crime. (1996). Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, 8(36), 1.

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