Reports: Correlation Between Alcohol and Crime Much Stronger than Correlation Between Illicit Drugs and Crime 7/10/98

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 - Chad Thevenot, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

A report released this week by Drug Strategies, a drug policy think-tank based in Washington, DC, finds that in 1996, 41% percent of all South Carolina arrestees tested positive for illegal drugs on the day they were arrested, However, because marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug, is fat-soluble, making it detectable in the body much longer than alcohol and other drugs, this figure is misleading.  Arrestees testing positive for an illegal drug does not accurately indicate if such persons were under the psychoactive effects of a drug while committing the offense. According to the Drug Strategies report, in 1996, four percent of arrestees in South Carolina tested positive for alcohol, while 51% admitted having used alcohol within
three days prior to the arrest (Drug Strategies, "South Carolina Profile: Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs," 1998).

In 1995, forty percent of probationers reported being under the influence of alcohol when they committed their offense compared to 14% who reported being under the influence of illicit drugs, according to a Department of Justice report. In regards to violent offenses, the gap in percentages widens to 41% of offenders reporting being under the influence of alcohol and 11% reporting being under the influence of drugs (Christopher J. Mumola, "Substance Abuse and Treatment of Adults on Probation, 1995," Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, March 1998, NCJ 166611)

According to a Department of Justice report on alcohol and crime, "nearly 4 in 10 violent victimizations involve use of alcohol, about 4 in 10 fatal motor vehicles accidents are alcohol-involved; and about 4 in 10 offenders, regardless of whether they are on probation, in local jail, or in State prison, self-report that they were using alcohol at the time of the offense." Sixty-five percent of spouse violence victimizations involved alcohol only, compared to 5% involving illicit drugs only. In regards to rape and sexual assaults, 30% of offenders were using alcohol while 4% were using drugs (Lawrence A. Greenfield, "Alcohol and Crime," Bureau of Justice Statistics report, April 1998).

(Chad Thevenot is Operations Manager for the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, 1899 L St., NW, Suite 500,
Washington, DC 20036, phone: (202) 835-9075, fax: (202) 833-8561.)

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Issue #49, 7/10/98 Government Kicks Off Billion Dollar Anti-Drug Ad Campaign | Feds File Motion Allowing Marshals to Shut Down Medical Marijuana Dispensaries | Oakland City Council Adopts Liberal Medical Marijuana Guidelines | Reports: Correlation Between Alcohol and Crime Much Stronger than Correlation Between Illicit Drugs and Crime | Federal Study Suggests Marijuana May Prevent Brain Damage in Stroke Victims | Anti-Needle Exchange H.R. 3717 Moves to Senate | Michigan Legislature Reforms "650 Lifer" Law | Heicklen Arrested at Start of 30 Hour Protest at Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts | Special Report: Drug Policy Down Under | Editorial: Running Ads vs. Protecting Kids
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