Sociodemographic Factors, Drug Abuse, and Other Crimes: How They Vary Among Male and Female Arrestees

Celia C. Lo, University of Alabama

'the push for severe punishment of drug-related crimes has drastically increased our prison population over the last decade. The number of female prisoners has grown at a rate even higher than that of males. With incarceration rates skyrocketing, it becomes ever more important to understand exactly who is involved in the justice system. An interview study conducted in seven county jails in Ohio examined various characteristics of arrestees, comparing the behaviors, attitudes, and needs of arrestees separately by gender. It recorded details of arrestees' (1) criminal behavior, (2) drug use, (3) experience of drug-abuse consequences, (4) attitudes toward drug treatment, and (5) sociodemographic backgrounds. Only by identifying these factors can we gain adequate understanding of why individuals are involved in the justice system--and of what can, finally, curtail that involvement. Drug treatment and marketable-skill development have been two approaches to curtailing recidivism, and this study found that such programs alleviate arrestees' difficulties most effectively when they incorporate a gender-sensitive approach. Whether or not the interviewed arrestees were aevery actually adjudicated, the identification of sociodemographic and other factors pertaining to them should provide useful insights for those seeking to deter future crime involvement among offenders generally.,

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Updated 05/20/2006