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Incapacitation Effects of Incarcerating Drug Offenders: Longitudinal Arrest Histories of Adults Arrested in Washington, DC, 1985-1986 (ICPSR 2741) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study examined differences in criminal career parameters that determine the potential incapacitative effects of alternative sentencing policies directed at drug-involved offenders. In particular, the researchers explored three key aspects of offenders' criminal careers: participation, frequency of offending, and termination rates from active offending. The study focused on differences in levels of serious offending by drug-using and nonusing drug offenders compared to drug-using and nonusing predatory offenders. Longitudinal arrest data for a sample of arrestees were collected to characterize the offending patterns of drug-using and nonusing drug offenders and predatory offenders. The sample was drawn from adults arrested in Washington, DC, on any charge from July 1, 1985, to June 30, 1986. Data were collected from case files maintained by the Washington, DC, Pretrial Services Agency for 883 arrestees and 5,387 arrests. Previous and subsequent arrests of the same individual were linked to form an arrest history. Within the sample of arrestees, three main types of offenders were distinguished based on offense charge at target arrest: (1) drug offenders, (2) predatory offenders (persons charged with robbery or burglary), and (3) all others. This study focused on the first two groups and distinguished drug users from non-users based on the results of a urine drug screen administered following the target arrest. Variables regarding arrests include date of arrest, drug test result, charges filed, disposition date, disposition type, and sentence length imposed. Demographic variables include race, sex, and place of birth.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Dataset - Download All Files (3.3 MB)
Documentation:
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Cohen, Jacqueline. INCAPACITATION EFFECTS OF INCARCERATING DRUG OFFENDERS: LONGITUDINAL ARREST HISTORIES OF ADULTS ARRESTED IN WASHINGTON, DC, 1985-1986. ICPSR version. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management [producer], 1995. Ann Arbor MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02741.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (88-IJ-CX-0037)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   adult offenders, alternatives to institutionalization, arrest records, career criminals, criminal histories, drug offenders, policies and procedures, recidivism, sentencing

Geographic Coverage:   District of Columbia, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1985-07--1986-06

Date of Collection:  

  • 1986--1990

Unit of Observation:   The units of observation are individual offenders and arrests. Since the data file is hierarchical, the unit of observation is dependent upon how the records are read from the data file.

Universe:   Adult arrestees in Washington, DC, from the period July 1, 1985, to June 30, 1986.

Data Types:   event/transaction data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) The dataset is hierarchical and contains three record types. Record Type 1, comprised of 13 variables and 883 records, contains stable personal information. Each unique individual represented in the data has a single Record Type 1. Record Type 2, comprised of 49 variables and 5,387 records, contains changing personal information at the time of arrest. Record Type 3, comprised of 78 variables and 5,387 records, contains arrest and court information. Each occurrence of Record Type 1 has at least one associated Record Type 2. Each occurrence of Record Type 2 has exactly one associated Record Type 3. (2) The user guide and codebook are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Website.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   Growing public concern about the spread of illicit drug use spawned a variety of efforts in the 1980s to increase the severity of sentences imposed on convicted drug offenders. These increases in sanctions were also motivated by related concerns about reducing the predatory crimes, especially robbery and burglary, often associated with drug use. While it was commonly believed that crime control policies directed at drug offenders would be effective in reducing predatory crimes, these policies ignored the potential complexity of the relationships among drug use, drug trafficking, and predatory crimes. In particular, rather than serving as an indicator of high levels of predatory crime, drug trafficking may represent an alternative to predatory crime for many drug users. This study examined differences in criminal career parameters that determine the potential incapacitative effects of alternative sentencing policies directed at drug-involved offenders. In particular, the researchers explored three key aspects of offenders' criminal careers: participation, frequency of offending, and termination rates from active offending. The study focused on differences in levels of serious offending by drug-using from nonusing drug offenders compared to drug-using and nonusing predatory offenders.

Study Design:   Longitudinal arrest data for a sample of arrestees were collected to characterize the offending patterns of drug-using and nonusing drug offenders and predatory offenders. The sample was drawn from adults arrested in Washington, DC, on any charge from July 1, 1985, to June 30, 1986. Data were collected from case files maintained by the Washington, DC, Pretrial Services Agency for 883 arrestees and 5,387 arrests. Previous and subsequent arrests of the same individual were linked to form an arrest history. Within the sample of arrestees, three main types of offenders were distinguished based on offense charge at target arrest: (1) drug offenders, (2) predatory offenders (persons charged with robbery or burglary), and (3) all others. This study focused on the first two groups and distinguished drug users from nonusers based on the results of a urine drug screen administered following the target arrest.

Sample:   Stratified random sample of adult arrestees.

Data Source:

case files of the Washington, DC, Pretrial Services Agency

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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