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Drug Treatment as a Crime Fighting Tool

Author

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  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet
  • Jody L. Sindelar

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mireia Jofre-Bonet & Jody L. Sindelar, 2002. "Drug Treatment as a Crime Fighting Tool," NBER Working Papers 9038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9038 Note: HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Desimone, Jeff, 2001. "The Effect of Cocaine Prices on Crime," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(4), pages 627-643, October.
    3. Jeff Grogger & Mike Willis, 1998. "The Introduction of Crack Cocaine and the Rise in Urban Crime Rates," NBER Working Papers 6353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Review: Drugs – Without the Hot Air (David Nutt)
      by Sam Watson in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-02-14 18:53:56

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Araujo, Ricardo Azevedo & Moreira, Tito Belchior S., 2004. "A dynamic model of production and traffic of drugs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 371-376, March.
    2. Arlen Guarin & Carlos Medina & Jorge Andres Tamayo, 2013. "The Effects of Punishment of Crime in Colombia on Deterrence, Incapacitation, and Human Capital Formation," Research Department Publications IDB-WP-420, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    3. Paresh Kumar Narayan & Ingrid Nielsen & Russell Smyth, 2010. "Is There a Natural Rate of Crime?," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 759-782, April.
    4. Scott Cunningham & Keith Finlay, 2013. "Parental Substance Use And Foster Care: Evidence From Two Methamphetamine Supply Shocks," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(1), pages 764-782, January.
    5. H. Naci Mocan & Erdal Tekin, 2003. "Guns, Drugs and Juvenile Crime: Evidence from a Panel of Siblings and Twins," NBER Working Papers 9824, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Bishai, D. & Sindelar, J. & Ricketts, E.P. & Huettner, S. & Cornelius, L. & Lloyd, J.J. & Havens, J.R. & Latkin, C.A. & Strathdee, S.A., 2008. "Willingness to pay for drug rehabilitation: Implications for cost recovery," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 959-972, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General

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