A Cross-National Comparison of Drug Offenses at Each Stage of the Criminal Justice System, 1990-1997

Sheryl Van Horne, Rutgers University

ABSTRACT
This paper examines the extent, variation and changes in drug trafficking, drug possession and total drug offences in criminal justice systems around the world between 1990-1997. The Fifth and Sixth United Nations Crime Surveys were utilized to determine drug crime trends. Total drug crimes, drug possession, and drug trafficking offenses were examined at each of the following stages of the criminal justice system: apprehension, prosecution, conviction and prison admissions. The questions that are addressed include: 1) where, geographically, are drugs a more significant proportion of the recorded, prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned crimes; 2) how has the share of drug possession and trafficking offenses changed over time; and 3) are drug offenses more likely to be filtered out in some countries rather than others. Case summaries and means were used to assess differences, and the sign test was used to test whether international trends were statistically significant in terms of the number of countries increasing or decreasing the proportion of drug offenders.

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Updated 05/20/2006