Evaluating the Incapacitative Benefits of Incarcerating Drug Offenders in Los Angeles and Maricopa [Arizona] Counties, 1986 and 1990 (ICPSR 6374)

Published: Jan 12, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Jacqueline Cohen, Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Police and Management; Daniel Nagin, Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Police and Management

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06374.v1

Version V1

The objective of this study was to examine the observable offending patterns of recent and past drug offenders to assess the crime control potential associated with recent increases in the incarceration of drug offenders. The periods examined were 1986 (representing the second half of the 1980s, when dramatic shifts toward increasing incarceration of drug offenders first became evident), and 1990 (after escalating sentences were well under way). Convicted offenders were the focus, since these cases are most directly affected by changes in imprisonment policies, particularly provisions for mandatory prison terms. Offending patterns of convicted and imprisoned drug offenders were contrasted to patterns of convicted robbers and burglars, both in and out of prison. The researchers used data from the National Judicial Reporting Program (NJRP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), for information on the court processing of individual felony convictions. The National Association of Criminal Justice Planners (NACJP), which maintains data for the approximately 50 counties included in the NJRP, was contracted to determine the counties to be sampled (Los Angeles County and Maricopa County in Arizona were chosen) and to provide individual criminal histories. Variables include number of arrests for robbery, violent crimes, property crimes, and other felonies, number of drug arrests, number of misdemeanor arrests, rate of violent, property, robbery, weapons, other felony, drug, and misdemeanor arrests, offense type (drug trafficking, drug possession, robbery, and burglary), total number of incarcerations, total number of convictions, whether sentenced to prison, jail, or probation, incarceration sentence in months, sex, race, and age at sampled conviction, and age at first arrest (starting at age 17).

Cohen, Jacqueline, and Nagin, Daniel. Evaluating the Incapacitative Benefits of Incarcerating Drug Offenders in Los Angeles and Maricopa [Arizona] Counties, 1986 and 1990. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-01-12. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06374.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (91-IJ-CX-K015)

1992

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Since the mid-1980s, the number of drug offenders handled by local and federal criminal justice systems has grown at high rates. The rising numbers of drug offenders have contributed substantially to the total increase in incarceration in the United States. The objective of this study was to examine the offending patterns of recent and past drug offenders to assess the crime control potential associated with recent increases in the incarceration of drug offenders. Specifically, three comparisons were made: (1) differences over time, (2) differences by sanction imposed, and (3) differences among offenders convicted of different offense types. Assuming an equilibrium in offending rates, the research sought to identify observable differences in offending among various samples. The periods of interest focused on the second half of the 1980s, when dramatic shifts toward increasing incarceration of drug offenders first became evident, compared to a later time period after escalating sentences were well under way.

Convicted offenders were the focus of the study, since these cases are most directly affected by changes in imprisonment policies, particularly provisions for mandatory prison terms. Offending patterns of convicted and imprisoned drug offenders were contrasted with patterns of convicted robbers and burglars, both in and out of prison. The researchers used data from the National Judicial Reporting Program (NJRP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), for information on the court processing of individual felony convictions. NJRP permits systematic comparisons of changes over time in the prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of felony defendants. Data on convicted offenders were derived from counties participating in the NJRP in 1986, before the rise in incarceration of drug offenders, and again in 1990, the first available year after the sharp rise in drug incarceration rates. However, because the Bureau of the Census, which collects the NJRP sample for BJS, places restrictions on access to individual-level data, the National Association of Criminal Justice Planners (NACJP), which maintains data for the approximately 50 counties included in the NJRP, was contracted to provide individual criminal histories.

Counties from the 1986 NJRP were selected based primarily on concerns about sample size and likely access to criminal records data.

All convicted and imprisoned drug offenders in the United States.

Individual convicted offenders.

National Judicial Reporting Program (NJRP) and the National Association of Criminal Justice Planners (NACJP)

event/transaction data

Variables include number of arrests for robbery, violent crimes, property crimes, and other felonies, number of drug arrests, number of misdemeanor arrests, rate of violent, property, robbery, weapons, other felony, drug, and misdemeanor arrests, offense type (drug trafficking, drug possession, robbery, and burglary), total number of incarcerations, total number of convictions, whether sentenced to prison, jail, or probation, incarceration sentence in months, sex, race, and age at sampled conviction, and age at first arrest (starting at age 17).

Not applicable.

None.

1996-01-22

2006-01-12

2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 6 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.

2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 5 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.

1996-01-22 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:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

1996-01-22 The hardcopy codebook for this collection was converted to Portable Document Format (PDF).

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.