Drug Treatment as a Crime Fighting Tool
Drugs and crime are known to be correlated, but the direction of causality and the magnitude of the relationship have not been well established. We take a new approach to estimating this relationship and examine a little used, multi-site dataset of 3,500 inner-city drug users entering treatment. We analyze the change in crime and in drug use pre and post treatment, controlling for other covariates. We take first differences to address omitted variable problems. For our sample, we find that treatment reduces drug use which, in turn, reduced drug decreases crime. Reduced drug use due to treatment is associated with 54% fewer days of crime for profit, ceteris paribus. Our evidence suggests that, reduced drug use is causally related to reduced crime. This finding is robust to different specifications and subsamples. Our findings broadly suggest that drug treatment may be an effective crime-fighting tool. Given the huge and growing expense of the criminal justice system, drug treatment might be cost-effective relative to incarceration.
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- Desimone, Jeff, 2001.
"The Effect of Cocaine Prices on Crime,"
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- Jofre-Bonet, Mireia & Petry, Nancy M., 2008. "Trading apples for oranges?: Results of an experiment on the effects of Heroin and Cocaine price changes on addicts' polydrug use," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 281-311, May.
- Hope Corman & H. Naci Mocan, 1996. "A Time-Series Analysis of Crime and Drug Use in New York City," NBER Working Papers 5463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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