Alcohol Crime and Drugs - Substance-related Arrests
percent abuse violations accounted
In Crime in the United States, 2002 (Washington, D.C., 2003), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that of the 13.7 million estimated arrests in 2002, drug abuse violations accounted for 1.5 million arrests, or about 11 percent, making drug abuse violations the highest single category of arrest, followed by driving under the influence (1.5 million arrests), simple assaults (1.3 million), and larceny/theft (1.2 million). (See Table 8.2.)
|Type of arrest||Number of arrests*|
|Drug abuse violations||1,538,800|
|Driving under the influence||1,461,700|
|*Arrest totals are based on all reporting agencies and estimates for unreported areas.|
|SOURCE: "Estimated Totals of Top 7 Arrest Offenses, United States, 2002," inDrugs and Crime Facts, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, DC, 2003 [Online] http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/dcf/enforce.htm [accessed April 10, 2004]|
The federal government passed a number of anti-drug and anti-crime bills in the 1980s—the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 (PL 98-473), the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 (PL 99-570), and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (PL 100-690). Each of these requires increased mandatory sentencing (see below), harsher sentencing, preventive detention, and even the death penalty for certain drug-related crimes. These laws were a major factor in the rising rate of drug arrests and prison sentences for drug convictions in the late 1980s and 1990s. The number of drug arrests rose from 1980 to 1995 by roughly 250 percent but held level from 1995 to 2000. (See Figure 8.1.)
Possession of drugs accounted for 80.3 percent of drug abuse violations in the United States in 2002 and 19.7 percent were for the sale or manufacturing of drugs. Possession of marijuana accounted for almost 40 percent of drug abuse violations in 2002. Heroin or cocaine and their derivatives accounted for 21.3 percent of arrests for possession and 8.8 percent of arrests for the sale or manufacture of drugs. (See Table 8.3.) These patterns were nearly identical to 1999 arrests for drug abuse violations nationally. In the Northeast the figures for sale or manufacturing were significantly higher, at almost 28 percent of all drug abuse arrests. (See Table 8.3.) Since 1982, arrests for possession of drugs have far outpaced arrests for their manufacture and sale. (See Figure 8.2.) Heroin and cocaine arrests grew from 1982 to 2001, rising from 13 percent of all drug arrests to 33 percent. (See Table 8.4.)
Arrests for drug abuse violations in 2002 were prevalent among younger persons. A total of
|Drug abuse violations||United States total||Northeast||Midwest||South||West|
|Heroin or cocaine and their derivatives||8.8||19.1||6.0||7.8||6.2|
|Synthetic or manufactured drugs||1.4||1.0||1.3||2.6||0.8|
|Other dangerous nonnarcotic drugs||4.0||1.3||8.3||2.0||5.0|
|Heroin or cocaine and their derivatives||21.3||23.4||11.5||22.0||24.4|
|Synthetic or manufactured drugs||3.0||1.8||2.7||4.4||2.5|
|Other dangerous nonnarcotic drugs||16.0||5.4||13.3||7.8||29.7|
|*Because of rounding, the percentages may not add to 100.0.|
|SOURCE: "Table 4.1: Arrests for Drug Abuse Violations, by Region, 2002," in Crime in the United States 2002, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC, 2003|
49 percent (540,142) of those arrested for drug abuse violations were under age 25. Those under age 21 accounted for 31 percent (342,204) of arrests for drug violations while juvenile offenders under age 18 made up 12.1 percent (133,754) of arrests. Persons under age 15 accounted for 2 percent (21,836) of drug abuse arrests. Still, from 1970 to 1999, the number of adults arrested for drug abuse violations increased much more steeply than the number of juveniles. (See Figure 8.3.)
From 1993 to 2002 drug abuse arrests increased for all ages by 37 percent. Arrests of those under age 18 rose 59.1 percent. (See Table 1.5 in Chapter 1.) The number of females arrested for drug offenses rose 50 percent between 1993 and 2002, with arrests for females under 18 rising 120 percent during this time. (See Table 1.6 in Chapter 1.) Males continue to make up an overwhelming majority of drug abuse arrestees. In 2002 males accounted for 82 percent (798,695) of arrests for drug abuse violations, compared to 18 percent (175,387) for females.
In 2002 whites accounted for 66.2 percent of all arrests for drug abuse in the United States, while blacks accounted for 32.5 percent of all arrests. American Indians/Alaskan Natives (0.6 percent) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (0.7 percent) represented a very small proportion of total drug abuse arrests.
In 2002 there were 840,384 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), down 2.8 percent from the 864,000 DUI arrests in 1998. Similarly, arrests for drunkenness were down by 16.9 percent, from a total of 455,225 in 1998, to 378,102 in 2002. Arrests for liquor law violations decreased from 395,831 in 1998 to 357,222 in 2002, down 9.8 percent. Liquor law violations are common among juvenile offenders, as it is illegal for juveniles to possess or purchase alcoholic beverages. Among persons under 18 years of age in 2002, there were 79,758 arrests for liquor law violations, a decline of 21.9 percent since 1998, compared to a decline of only 5.5 percent (277,464 arrests) among arrestees 18 or older.
White offenders are consistently involved in more arrests for alcohol violations than other races. In 2002 white arrests made up 87.8 percent of driving under the influence offenses, 87.7 percent of the liquor law violations, and 83.7 percent of drunkenness arrests. American Indians/Alaskan Natives accounted for 2.5 percent of liquor law arrests and 2.3 percent of drunkenness arrests.