Changing Patterns of Drug Abuse and Criminality Among Crack Cocaine Users in New York City: Criminal Histories and Criminal Justice System Processing, 1983-1984, 1986 (ICPSR 9790)

Principal Investigator(s): Fagan, Jeffrey; Belenko, Steven; Johnson, Bruce D.


This data collection compares a sample of persons arrested for offenses related to crack cocaine with a sample arrested for offenses related to powdered cocaine. The collection is one of two parts of a study designed to examine the characteristics of crack users and sellers, the impact of large numbers of crack-related offenders on the criminal justice system, and their effects on drug treatment and community programs. Official arrest records and supplementary data bases are used to analyze the official arrest, conviction, and incarceration histories of powdered cocaine and crack defendants. Questions addressed by the collection include: (1) How are defendants charged with crack-related offenses different from defendants charged with offenses related to powdered cocaine? (2) Is there a difference between the ways the criminal justice system handles crack offenders and powdered cocaine offenders in pretrial detention, charges filed, case dispositions, and sentencing? (3) How do the criminal careers of crack offenders compare with the criminal careers of powdered cocaine offenders, especially in terms of total arrest rates, frequencies of nondrug crimes, and frequencies of violent crimes? (4) Is violence more strongly associated with crack dealing than with powdered cocaine dealing? and (5) How does the developmental history of powdered cocaine sales and possession compare with the history of crack sales and possession? Variables include demographic information such as gender, residence, and race, arrest, conviction, and incarceration histories, prior criminal record, community ties, and court outcomes of the arrests.

Access 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.


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Study Description


Fagan, Jeffrey, Steven Belenko, and Bruce D. Johnson. CHANGING PATTERNS OF DRUG ABUSE AND CRIMINALITY AMONG CRACK COCAINE USERS IN NEW YORK CITY: CRIMINAL HISTORIES AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM PROCESSING, 1983-1984, 1986. Los Altos, CA: Sociometrics Corporation [producer], 1991. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2002.

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This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (87-IJ-CX-0064)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    arrest records, case processing, crack cocaine, convictions (law), criminal histories, criminal justice system, criminality, disposition (legal), drug abuse, drug offenders, imprisonment

Geographic Coverage:    New York City, New York (state), United States

Time Period:   

  • 1983--1984
  • 1986

Date of Collection:   

  • 1983-1984
  • 1986

Universe:    Individuals arrested by the New York City Police Department for crack-related offenses (August through October of 1986) or powdered cocaine-related offenses (1983-1984).

Data Type(s):    administrative records data


Sample:    The data collection utilized a matched cohort research design in which a sample of defendants arrested for offenses related to crack cocaine was drawn and compared with a similarly drawn matched sample of defendants arrested for offenses related to powdered cocaine. A total of 3,403 persons in the crack cohort and 3,424 persons in the powdered cocaine cohort were sampled.

Data Source:

(1) New York City Police Department Booking system, (2) New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc., database, and (3) New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services fingerprint-based criminal records system

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.


Original ICPSR Release:   1992-10-31

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
  • 2002-06-27 SAS and SPSS data definition statements were created for this collection and the codebook was converted to PDF.

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