What kinds of drug and crime problems are found where
The focus group participants from the Brooklyn Treatment Court lived
in neighborhoods within Brooklyn, most with serious drug and crime problems:
- Where I live . . . a lot of gun shooting.
- Police everywhere, people getting high everywhere.
- Where I used to live . . . drugs around the clock. . . .
- I cant go back there. . . . Im tired of trying to deal
with the stick-ups, fireworks, whatever type of crime. . . .
- Its not really that bad . . . mostly marijuana in my area .
. . lots of robberies, stick-ups . . . but other than that its
- Just to make a long story short, they call my neighborhood three blocks
around Gunsmokethat should tell you right there.
Las Vegas drug court participants were diverse in their racial and ethnic
backgrounds and included recent arrivals from locations as far flung as
California, Michigan, Mississippi, and Washington. Several participants
said that they did not see pronounced drug and crime problems in the areas
in which they lived. Many others, however, saw a great deal of drug activity
and serious crime quite often in their neighborhoods:
- Drugs, violence, gangs . . . you name it.
- In mine a lot of dealing dope, meth, and a lot of ganking other people
sh** for no reasonyou know everybody gets all whacked out and
starts stealing everybody sh**. . . . Me personally, I just get high
and do my own thing, sleep around the house, you know.
- Well, all the crime boil down to drugs because I used to try to sell
drugs to support my drug habit and then I got caught, so then I changed
over and then a lot of my friends that lives in the neighborhood that
were drug addicts they taught me how to become a professional booster.
A large number of the Las Vegas participants saw drugs as both a major
problem in their neighborhoods and as the cause of much of the other neighborhood
crime. These drug-related crimes included gangs, gang-related crime, and
violence in particular neighborhoods, in addition to less violent forms
of crime, such as prostitution and theft:
- Well, its like gang-infested, drugs-infested, like most of
itPCP, marijuana, crack cocaine, thats what I see every
- I would say, um, crack cocaine. . . . Well, people do things so they
can buy another rock, you know, from prostitution to gripping people
up, robbing them. . . .
- A lot of drugs. I mean just the selling of them.
- One of the things I dont like about Vegas, just my opinion,
is when youre walking down the street and they think youre
a prostitute, thats the worst one here I hate. . . . It doesnt
matter how big or ugly you are or how you are dressed. . . . For me,
thats my biggest problem.
Local shootings were felt by Las Vegas participants to be gang-related.
Theft, car break-ins, aggressive panhandling, vandalism, and car thefts
were all mentioned as being commonly observed by participants.
- I work downtown every day, so I see aggressive panhandling that involves
street people, a lot of pinching activity going on, a lot of people
drinking, and a lot of car burglaries. . . . Out where I live, which
is by John Glenny, you see more homeless, a lot of people drinking,
and a lot of car burglaries.
- I seen shootings, like in the summertime you are sitting outside and
I saw a few shootings.
- In my neighborhood there is a lot of domestic violence openly on the
street. It is directly related to drugs and alcohol. They can hardly
- There is a lot of territorial crime too, over drugs. Theres
supposed to be one part of the place where these people are supposed
to be selling and somebody done came in and so they rivaling and hes
jealous. . . .
- I guess it was on the next block, I dont think it was on my
block. . . . I heard this loud banging on my door and, you know, I looked
out the window and there was just somebody covered in blood. I guess
he was stabbed. . . . It was drug-related.
Miami participants also described drug and crime problems in their neighborhoods:
- Where you shouldnt live . . . Overtown and Brownsub, Liberty
City, Little Haiti.
- At the beach . . . on the main street, people ask me for heroin. .
- I live in Brownsubthey call it Brownsub now . . . Brownsville,
a graveyard and that like where they mainly sell the crack cocaine,
have high speed chases, they jump out of cars near the graveyard and
the police searchlights, the dogs, and they come through. . . .
- Crack, cocaine, weed, anything. Theres enough drugs aroundlike
kids walking around breaking into cars; all the crime scenes; basically
- Stealing peoples stuff off their clothesline, where I live.
. . .
- Even if you live in Miami Lakes, its just a more sophisticated
but like a concealed thing; its like undercover. They lawyers
and all, but they use, but they under cover with it, and they aint
walking down the street. . . .
- The way I see it over here in Miami, I mean not only in Miami, anywhere
theres drugs, there will be crimes, cause crime follows
the drugs. . . . I may live over here and they sell drugs over there,
but comes to a point where the neighborhood gets burnt out . . . you
aint got nothin to steal. It wont be much crime as
far as breaking enterings and stuff like that but there will be the
dope. So what we got to do, a drug user, is we go somewhere else and
find em, well break in. Yknow thats where it
comes in at.
- With drugs in Miami, if you want it you can find it, anywhere in Miami
. . . whatever part you go through.
- Its just an open-air market. . . . You walk in and get it from
Participants in the Portland drug court focus group resided in different
parts of Portland, with a few living outside of the city. Most participants
reported that drugs were a problem in their neighborhoods, but acknowledged
that drugs are more visible in some parts of Portland than in others.
- I live in North Portland and theres a lot of methamphetamine,
a lot of crack cocaine, a lot of weed.
- I live in North Portland also and theres not so much sales going
on as where I use to live. I use to live on Mississippi and Skidmore,
which is right down the middle of everything. But now what I see is
syringes at the bus stop, I see truck drivers making deals, also cocaine
and heroin on the train.
- We lived on Skidmore and Mississippi. Wed walk half a block
and get crack cocaine any time of the day or night in any quantity.
- I live in an upper-class working neighborhood just this side of Gresham
and I would probably say I rarely had to go out of my area to get my
drugs. I would say basically alcohol and methamphetamines.
- I live in Hilltop. I saw a lot of people using cocaine and marijuana.
- Well, I live in Sunderland so there isnt much crime up there,
but Ive been to the West Side, you know what I mean, and I dont know, I think it has to
do a lot like with gangs and just protecting your territory.
- I live in Beaverton and we have like nothing out there. I found when
I lived in Gresham there was an overabundance of cocaine, marijuana,
and heroin everywhere, every apartment complex.
- I live in the southeast end, you know, a fourplex, and in any direction
I want to go, theres something there. Mostly amphetamines.
- Okay, when we lived on Mississippi and Skidmore, there was not one
car that had a radio antenna on it in the whole neighborhood, they had
all been broken off and made into crack pipes.
When asked to describe drug crime problems in their neighborhoods, San
Bernardino participants pointed to difficult areas within the city of
- I live not too far from drug court, so the neighborhood is all right,
theres not too much crime, but speed has definitely taken over
- For drugs and crime, the worst part of the area [San Bernardino County]
is San Bernardino [the city]. [Many voices expressing general consensus.]
- The worst part of town . . . its the West Side of San Bernardino.
- I live in San Bernardino in the Meadowbrook Apartments and its
the spot, you can get everything you want: speed, cocaine, alcohol.
. . .
- I live in San Bernardino. Where I live there is basically a lot of
drugs. Basically anything you want is there.
- There are a lot of guns, stealing, robbing. . . .
Seattle drug court participants were also able to sketch a map of drug
and crime neighborhoods in that city:
- Most of my life I lived in the Seattle area. Now its predominately
cocaine; when I was growing up it was predominately heroin, marijuana.
- Yes, theres a lot of crime involving theft and pawn shopstheres
also drug dealing.
- I live in Capitol Hill, Seattle, and the building I live in, theres
lots of heroin use and crack cocaine use.
- I grew up in Bellevue and my parents live out there but I recently
moved onto their boat. . . . Its not easy getting out there but
aside from that, when I was homeless I stayed on Capitol Hill and its
really crummyall you have to do is walk down Broadway and Id
run into somebody to give me sh**. . . . And you know that never happened
when I was strung out. It happens now when Im clean.
- I live in Kirkplant. . . . But they call it Cokeplant. . . .
- I live in Century Village, CV. Its mostly cocaine.
- Burglaries and drug dealing right next door in Ranton.
- I live in Ranton. There aint no drugs around me.
- I live on 130 and the World and its a high prostitute area but
as far as drugs, not really, not anymore.
- I stay in Chinatown and the place where Im staying is surrounded
by crime by . . . drugs, heroin, upstairs, so its around. . .
- [To avoid high crime, active drug areas, dont live in] the Morrison,
downtown, Chinatown, Magnolia, Central District, South Seattle. . .
Back to Neighborhood Problems
Chance: Perspectives on Drug Courts