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What Percent of Crimes Are Drug Related?

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By Tyrrell Sampson
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what percent of crimes are drug related

Depending on the circumstances, the question “what percent of crimes are drug related?” is a valid one. In Australia, drug-related crime accounts for just a small percentage of all charges. But this doesn’t mean that drug-using offenders don’t become involved in crime. Most of them are not. And if they are, they may even benefit from programs and organizations to help them stop using drugs.

According to recent statistics, about 25 percent of detainees who were convicted of crimes attributed it to economic factors (including the need for money to purchase drugs). The rest attributed it to psychopharmacological factors, including intoxication and hanging out. But despite the prevalence of drug-related crimes, it’s hard to tell whether the underlying causes are more complex. The question is also a key indicator of criminal activity.

The FBI publishes crime data from its two national databases, SRS and NIBRS. The Crime in the United States series provides estimates of property crimes, arrests, and violent crimes, but it does not report what drugs were used. The FBI also reports on homicides during drug-related crimes, though not all of these crimes result in Supplementary Homicide Reports. The table was created by the ONDCP Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse staff from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.

A recent study conducted by the Drug Policy Institute found that one-fifth of state prison inmates admitted to using illicit drugs at the time of their arrest. Drug use varies significantly by race and gender, and whites were more likely to admit to using drugs than other races. In all locations, marijuana usage was the most common substance used among arrestees. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and synthetic opiates continued to rise. In Denver, the use of methamphetamine increased from 2000 to 2013.

Studies have shown that one-third of all crimes committed in prison were drug-related. While there is no definitive evidence for the percentage, the availability of heroin has dropped significantly. In New York, heroin was available to 35% of prison inmates in 2013. A 2004 BJS survey reported that 17 percent of state prisoners and 18 percent of federal inmates committed crimes for drug purchase. Accordingly, drug-related crimes are more likely to occur among those with criminal histories.

While the rate of illicit drug use is not statistically significant, it does represent an accurate indicator of crime levels. The attribution fractions of illicit drug use and alcohol crimes are based on two sets of data – offending rates and crimes caused by drugs. For each state, these numbers will vary. In some states, a high proportion of crime may be alcohol-related. In other states, the percentage of drug-related crimes is even higher.

Even though the percentage of violent crime is high, it is important to remember that most offenders are not problem users or perpetrators of crime for the purpose of buying drugs. Many of these crimes are acquisitive in nature, and focus on the poorer inner-city areas. By understanding this relationship between drugs and crime, we can help reduce the media’s over-exposure of the issue. If you’re interested in reducing your risk of becoming a victim of crime, this is a good place to start.

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