How common is criminal activity among participants in drug
Brooklyn participants saw criminal activity as low:
- On a scale of 1 to 10, Id say, maybe like 3. . . .
- Just a few.
When asked to indicate a percentage of drug court participants committing
crime while in the program, several Las Vegas participants suggested that
about 40 to 45 percent of the drug court participants were engaged in
criminal activity. Others thought this percentage was a little high, but
did not strenuously disagree:
- I think there is crime in the program straight out because you know
they have theft in night classes. . . . If they are doing it here they
are going to do it out there.
Las Vegas focus group participants believed that drug use and crime are
linked. A number stated their belief that persons who have stopped using
drugs were committing less crime than they would if they were still using.
Similarly, drug court participants who were still using were probably
more involved in criminal activity than those who had quit:
- Im sure it is because, like she was saying, if youre boosting
to get high and youre not getting high anymore, well then youre
not going to go out and steal as much. . . .
- I dont steal anymore. I dont have no reason to.
- I dont commit crimes normally, but because of doing drugs, I
committed crimes because I wasnt thinking straight. . . . If I werent on the drugs,
I wouldnt have been committing any crimes.
When asked about the types of crimes being committed, several Las Vegas
participants noted that some of their fellow classmates were still selling
- A lot of the people that are users too that I know . . . they went
on to selling.
- Shoplifting, selling of drugs. Selling is like the biggest one.
Generally speaking, however, Las Vegas participants appeared to believe
that although the drug court does not eliminate all criminal activity,
it does have a major impact, particularly for those who take the treatment
Most Miami participants were unwilling to guess at the level of criminal
activity among their peers while they were still in the drug court program.
A few participants guessed that about 10 to 15 percent of clients still
committed crimes while in drug court. One participant guessed that the
rate was more like 5 percent, but a majority of the participants said
they just did not know:
- I havent got a clue.
- About 10 percent.
- 15 percent . . . especially those who got in court because they was
selling drugs, about 10 to 15 percent of dealers.
- I have no idea what the number would be, as far as the crime.
- I have no idea . . . low number though.
Responses from San Bernardino focus group members ranged from stating
the incidence is low to saying that giving up drugs has nothing to do
with giving up crime:
- I say 20 out of 100.
- It aint that much. There is a few, but not many.
- I gotta do some crime to get the bus to come over here.
- I dont think crimewhatever you do outside a drug lifehave
anything to do with drugs. So if you do crime and stay clean, I think
whatever else you do is up to you.
- People just have their own mind, I mean like a gang-banger, aint
nobody gonna stop gang-bangers just because they stopped smokin
weed or sellin dope.
- It just makes em more open-minded.
- If youre doing any kind of crime, youre gonna get caught
eventually, and you wont be in the program, youll be in jail.
- For me personally, I dont have time to do nothin else but
drug court. . . . You dont think about crime. Only on weekends,
and on weekends you want to spend it with your family.
- Not only that, in your right mind you aint gonna take no risks
like that as you would if you were high. . . . Like if you were high,
you dont care. But now you do care about your family and kids and
stayin out of jail.
Seattle participants also exhibited a variety of responses to the question:
Back to Participant Drug Use
Chance: Perspectives on Drug Courts