Drug Dealing Among US Youth Down 40%: Study

The spread of marijuana legalization may account for some of the decline, say the author of the study in the Addictive Behaviors journal. But they add more research is needed to understand the role that peer pressure and behavioral problems play in substance abuse disorders among young people.

The prevalence of drug selling among adolescents has undergone a significant downward trend, falling from 4.1 percent in 2002 to 2.3 percent in 2015, according to a forthcoming study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Addictive Behaviors.

At the same time, arrests of the general population due to possession and trafficking of illegal substances in 2005 have grown by three times, when compared to drug arrests in 1980, notes the study.

Subsequently, “incarceration for drug offenses (has) risen even more steeply over the past 30 years.”

To address continued youth involvement with drugs, researchers and youth workers must explore the role that behavioral problems play in  substance abuse disorders, the study says.

Adolescents’ peers are major sources of obtaining drugs, indicating the pressure teens face to become involved in usage and/or dealing, according to the authors of the study.

Drug dealing is often linked to other risky and delinquent behaviors among youth, making it an imperative topic of research and point of action in our criminal justice system, explains the study.

In order to examine these trends, the study used responses from 233,435 US youth between 12 and 17, collected between 2002 and 2015 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a national survey of persons over the age of 12 about substance use and abuse (tobacco, alcohol, drugs) and mental health issues.

To acquire this data, participants were asked how many times they had sold illegal drugs in the past year. It is important to note that the drug and alcohol portion of the survey were self-reported, meaning the information collected could be subjected to reporting errors due to poor memory or self-biases.

In addition to the prevalence of drug-selling among youth, the survey also recorded the respondents’ gender and ethnicity (restricted to non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic African American and Hispanic) in order to consider additional impactful factors.

The researchers ran a statistical analysis on the prevalence of year among the general sample and then reran the measure to stratify by gender and racial subgroups.

The results found a 40 percent reduction in the prevalence of reported drug-selling among youth—which they called a significant decrease from a 4.1 percent prevalence rate in 2002 to 2.3 percent in 2015.

More precisely, this decrease in drug-selling was predominately identified in males across all racial groups. Although a significant reduction in selling was found among girls who did not use an illegal substance in the last year, were African American, or were between 15 and 17 years old, the overall trend remained stable for females.

To explain the overall decrease in drug-selling prevalence, the researchers argued that youth with law enforcement was primarily effected by the spread of marijuana decriminalization.

Though all 30 states which have legalized marijuana require an individual to be over the age of 21 to partake in the benefits of the law, the change in legality and subsequent change in acceptability of society may continue to erode the prevalence of drug-dealing among youths, they said.

The study was conducted by Michael G. Vaugh and Katherine J. Holzer of Saint Louis University’s School of Social Work; Millan A. AbiNader and Christopher P. Salas-Wright of Boston University’s School of Social Work; and Sehun Oh of the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work.

The complete study is available for purchase here.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern Laura Binczewski. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Rural Violent Crime Is Above the National Average

Rural areas are suffering from a shortage of law enforcement and a dramatic increase in incarceration. The lack of policing is breeding crime.

While violent crime is still a problem in urban areas, many are safer now than they’ve been in decades. The violent crime rate in rural areas is above the national average for the first time in 10 years, Governing reports. In Iowa, the overall violent crime rate rose by 3 percent between 2006 and 2016, but shot up by 50 percent in communities with fewer than 10,000 residents. Violent crime rates have doubled in rural counties in West Virginia over the past two decades, while tripling in New Hampshire. “Rural areas, which traditionally have had lower crime rates, have seen dramatic increases in incarceration rates,” says Jacob Kang-Brown of the Vera Institute of Justice. Not all rural areas are poor, but many have lost jobs as factories have closed and farming has become consolidated. Lack of employment has led to increases in poverty, which is associated with crime. The opioid epidemic has hit rural areas hard, and methamphetamine remains a major problem.

There’s also a shortage of law enforcement. Dwindling tax bases mean fewer sheriff’s deputies. Deputies must patrol many times the geographic area that a city cop covers on his beat. Last year, Josephine County, Or., voters approved a public safety levy, after five previous attempts failed. Large parts of the county, hit hard by a decline in the timber industry, had received no service from the sheriff’s office. Lack of enforcement breeds crime. Criminals, particularly those dealing in drugs, become emboldened or move to areas where there’s little danger of detection. Even when perpetrators are caught, there’s not always a place to put them. “Whether it’s law enforcement or crime analytics or investigation capacity or behavioral capacity — on all those fronts, rural areas have less resources available than urban areas,” says Marshall Clement of the Council of State Governments Justice Center.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Baltimore Crime Surges Amid Police Pullback

Policing in the city has changed “very dramatically,” says Prof. Donald Norris of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “The outcome … has been a lot more crime in Baltimore, especially murders, and people are getting away with those murders.” Officials acknowledge the change. “In all candor, officers are not as aggressive as they once were, pre-2015,” says acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle.

Just before a wave of violence turned Baltimore into the nation’s deadliest big city, its  officers seemed to stop noticing crime, USA Today reports. Police officers reported seeing fewer drug dealers on the streets, and they encountered fewer people who had open arrest warrants. Police questioned fewer people. In spring 2015, as Baltimore faced rioting after Freddie Gray died from injuries in the back of a police van, officers appeared to turn a blind eye to everyday violations. The number of potential violations they reported seeing dropped by nearly half. It has largely stayed that way ever since. “What officers are doing is they’re just driving looking forward. They’ve got horse blinders on,” says Kevin Forrester, a retired Baltimore detective.

In the surge of shootings and killings, the murder rate reached an all-time high last year; 342 people were killed. Shootings in some neighborhoods have more than tripled. Baltimore offers a view of the possible costs of a national reckoning over how police officers have treated minorities. Starting in 2014, racially charged encounters cast an unflattering spotlight on aggressive police tactics toward blacks. Cities have been under pressure to crack down on abuses by law enforcement. In Baltimore, from 2014 to 2017, the number of suspected narcotics offenses police reported dropped 30 percent; the number of times police approach someone for questioning fell 70 percent. Policing in the city has changed “very dramatically,” says Prof. Donald Norris of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. “The outcome … has been a lot more crime in Baltimore, especially murders, and people are getting away with those murders.” Officials acknowledge the change. “In all candor, officers are not as aggressive as they once were, pre-2015. It’s just that fact,” says acting Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle. He blames a shortage of patrol officers and the fallout from a blistering 2016 Justice Department investigation. Tuggle said Wednesday that he is bolstering the department’s patrol ranks by almost 20 percent.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Murders, Rapes Up in NYC; Overall Crime Down

The city recorded 147 murders through June 30, an 8 percent increase from the same period in 2017.  Reported rapes were up 33 percent in the same period. Policed officials said victims are more comfortable reporting rapes.

Murders and rapes have increased in New York City this year as overall crime continues to fall to historic lows, reports the Wall Street Journal. The city recorded 147 murders through June 30, an 8 percent increase from the same period in 2017.  In 2017, there were 136 murders through June and 292 for the entire year, the lowest per-capita murder rate since the 1950s. “We were all quite sober about the fact that trying to repeat what happened in 2017 would be very, very difficult,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.  For the first half of the year, reported rapes increased by 33 percent, to 903. The city recorded 678 rapes during the same period last year.

Police officials attributed the rise to victims feeling more comfortable reporting the rapes. Reports of domestic rape, historically one of the most underreported categories, were up 45 percent the police department’s Terence Monahan said. Overall crime numbers hit another historic low over the first six months of 2018. Those statistics include murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto. Between Jan. 1 and July 1 of 2017, the city recorded a total of 46,468 crimes. For the same period this year,  police recorded 45,525 crimes, a reduction of two percent. Murders are still down significantly since the police began tracking crimes using the CompStat program in 1994. There were 335 murders in 2016, 352 in 2015, and more than 2,200 in 1990.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Violence Protesters Plan Chicago Highway Shutdown

Activist Chicago priest Michael Pfleger and perhaps hundreds of others plan to shut down traffic Saturday on the city’s Dan Ryan Expressway to send a message: Elected leaders must fix neighborhood schools and create better job prospects to supplant the violence plaguing some pockets of the city.

Activist Chicago priest Michael Pfleger and perhaps hundreds of others plan to shut down traffic Saturday on the city’s Dan Ryan Expressway to send a message: Elected leaders must fix neighborhood schools and create better job prospects to supplant the violence plaguing some pockets of the city, the Chicago Tribune reports. In 2016, gun violence reached levels that had not been seen in 20 years. While the number of shooting victims has decreased since then, it’s still higher than 2015 and 2014. “We’re still on target to go,” Pfleger said. “We’re taking a page from the civil rights movement. When nothing else was working, civil disobedience is what eventually made authorities and the government listen.”

Law enforcement officials have asked Pfleger to reconsider, saying protesters are putting their lives on the line by walking onto a busy expressway. Illinois State police troopers, who have jurisdiction over Chicago expressways, will try to stop protesters from getting on the Dan Ryan, and arrests will be made, if necessary. “If people break the law, we may have to arrest people. But that’s not what our goal is here,” said Illinois State Police Director Leo Schmitz. “Our goal is to save lives, whether it be the young children or people in the city or motorists.” Pfleger and other protesters are demanding meetings with Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other elected officials, along with those running for office, to discuss solutions to gun violence. Will the protest lead to change, or just to protest fatigue? Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology and African-American studies at Northwestern University, said shutting down a highway is a classic nonviolent, civil disobedience type of protest. He noted that Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leaders shut down entire cities to draw attention to the plight of African Americans.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Indianapolis Homicides Rise, Many Young Victims

A new murder was the city’s 71st of 2018, compared with 57 at the same time last year. Ten of the victims have been young people. A “violence reduction partnership ” is under way.

2018 is becoming another deadly year on Indianapolis streets, particularly for young people, the Indianapolis Star reports. Ten juveniles and teenagers have been killed so far. Eight fell to gunfire, including an apparent drive-by shooting in March that took the life of 1-year-old Malaysia Robson. At least six other young people have been arrested in homicide investigations. Indianapolis has reached record levels of criminal homicides in each of the past three years. A homicide last Tuesday marked the city’s 71st of 2018, compared with 57 at the same time last year and 59 the year before.  The Rev. David Greene, president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, said there is no quick way to stop the violence. “There’s got to be a way for us, rather than go to our respective corners and not find a middle ground,” he said. “If we want a better, safer community, find that middle ground.”

Jane Hedeen leads the Moms Demand Action – IndianaBe SMART campaign, which focuses on reducing the number of child gun deaths by suicide, accidental shootings and, increasingly, homicide. She said curbing violence demands a multifaceted effort, including conflict resolution training, mentoring and counseling services available to adults and teens alike who have been exposed to violent crime. “We know that when youth are exposed to firearm violence, it doubles the probability that that adolescent will commit an act of serious violence themselves within the following two years,” she said. “So what we’re seeing is part of a vicious cycle, that children or youth that are exposed to this violence are going to use it as a coping mechanism themselves.” A renewed effort called the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership holds biweekly meetings among high-ranking members of nearly every agency. Inside the police department’s East District headquarters, officers identify violent offenders and coordinate investigations. 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Indianapolis Homicides Rise, Many Young Victims

A new murder was the city’s 71st of 2018, compared with 57 at the same time last year. Ten of the victims have been young people. A “violence reduction partnership ” is under way.

2018 is becoming another deadly year on Indianapolis streets, particularly for young people, the Indianapolis Star reports. Ten juveniles and teenagers have been killed so far. Eight fell to gunfire, including an apparent drive-by shooting in March that took the life of 1-year-old Malaysia Robson. At least six other young people have been arrested in homicide investigations. Indianapolis has reached record levels of criminal homicides in each of the past three years. A homicide last Tuesday marked the city’s 71st of 2018, compared with 57 at the same time last year and 59 the year before.  The Rev. David Greene, president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis, said there is no quick way to stop the violence. “There’s got to be a way for us, rather than go to our respective corners and not find a middle ground,” he said. “If we want a better, safer community, find that middle ground.”

Jane Hedeen leads the Moms Demand Action – IndianaBe SMART campaign, which focuses on reducing the number of child gun deaths by suicide, accidental shootings and, increasingly, homicide. She said curbing violence demands a multifaceted effort, including conflict resolution training, mentoring and counseling services available to adults and teens alike who have been exposed to violent crime. “We know that when youth are exposed to firearm violence, it doubles the probability that that adolescent will commit an act of serious violence themselves within the following two years,” she said. “So what we’re seeing is part of a vicious cycle, that children or youth that are exposed to this violence are going to use it as a coping mechanism themselves.” A renewed effort called the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership holds biweekly meetings among high-ranking members of nearly every agency. Inside the police department’s East District headquarters, officers identify violent offenders and coordinate investigations. 

from https://thecrimereport.org

Newsrooms Beef Up Security After Annapolis

Journalists say the number of threats they receive has increased in recent years. The killing of journalists in the U.S. is rare. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists 11 such deaths since 1992; the U.S. now is the third-deadliest country for journalists in 2018, behind only Afghanistan and Syria.

After the killings at an Annapolis newspaper, news organizations are on high alert, with some beefing up security. The fatal shooting of five employees of the Capital Gazette seems to have deepened a general sense among journalists that the ugly emails and phone calls they ordinarily receive might be something more than just a disgruntled individual blowing off steam, the Washington Post reports. “I can tell you that we’ve had a lot of discussions about security that we didn’t have before,” said Chad Lawhorn, editor of the Lawrence (Ks.) Journal-World. “This was a very painful reminder of the world we’re living in now.” The most visible sign of heightened concern was the presence of New York City police officers outside the headquarters of the New York Times. Washington, D.C. police assigned a unit to guard the front of the Washington Post’s offices.

Journalists say the number of threats they receive has increased in recent years. While news organizations are loath to attribute this to a single factor, they say President Trump’s rhetoric demonizing the press hasn’t been helpful. The killing of journalists in the U.S. is exceptionally rare. The Committee to Protect Journalists lists 11 such deaths since 1992, including Roanoke, Va., reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward, were fatally shot on camera while on a routine assignment in 2015. The U.S. now is the third-deadliest country for journalists in 2018, behind only Afghanistan and Syria. Harassment and threats are a constant shadow for reporters, with female journalists bearing a disproportionate share of the abuse. Audrey Cooper, editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, said, “Every newsroom I know of, regardless of size or geographical area, has at least a handful of people who regularly harass its journalists. Every one.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Interracial Crime Study Finds Whites More Likely to Assault Blacks Than the Reverse

Researchers using Los Angeles Police Department data from 2000-2007 found that Whites were less likely to be the victims of assaults by Blacks and Hispanics, but more likely to be victims of robbery and weapons crimes by those ethnic groups.

Whites are more likely to assault and use weapons against African Americans and Hispanics than the reverse, according to a forthcoming study in the International Review of Law and Economics

The study, based in part on data obtained from the Los Angeles Police Department for the years 2000 to 2007 on interracial “face to face” crimes, found that Whites were roughly 13 percent more likely to assault African Americans and Hispanics, and that Whites were approximately 0.5 percent more likely to use weapons against them than those two ethnic groups are likely to use weapons against Whites.

The study authors restricted their analysis to four types of “face-to-face” crime: homicide, robbery, assault, and weapon use, noting that “conditional on the suspect and victim being White, Hispanic or Black [. . .] these four crimes account for 66 percent of reported crime.”

In interactions between Blacks and Hispanic suspects and White victims, Blacks and Hispanics were found less likely to assault Whites and more likely to commit robbery and weapons crimes against Whites than the reverse.

Face-to-face crimes involving a White suspect and a White victim are most likely to be assaults, while incidents that pair a White suspect with a Black or Hispanic victim are more likely to involve robbery, assault and weapons use.

The pattern of violence shown in the study produced a picture at variance with previous research drawing from aggregate data, the authors said.

“Blacks/Hispanics assault and use weapons against Whites more often than Whites assault and use weapons against Blacks/Hispanics, but these relationships flip once we control for neighborhood and time effects in a panel data setting,” the authors wrote.

The pattern of Whites committing acts of violence against Blacks and Hispanics was found to be consistent across most of Los Angeles.

“We observe this pattern of violence committed by White individuals across almost all types of neighborhoods in Los Angeles County, and the pattern is stronger in neighborhoods that are wealthier and have a greater population density of White individuals,” the authors said.

The study, to be published in the December 2018, was conducted by Gregory DeAngelo of Claremont Graduate University; R. Kaj Gittings of Texas Tech University; and Anita Alves Pena of Colorado State University.

Of all reported crimes, 37.7 percent identify the race of the suspect and victim. Of that fraction of reported crimes, 75.1 percent involved suspects and victims whose race was either White, Black, or Hispanic.

In relation to all reported crimes in Los Angeles, assaults were found to be more likely among Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics. This group comprised 41.8 percent of assaults, which is 14.5 percent of all reported crimes.

Variance over time in neighborhood arrest rates, policing practices, economic conditions, and demographic changes were included in the analysis. These elements contribute to changes in the cost-benefit analysis of committing crime, general racial attitudes, and social norms which may change over time.

A full copy of the report can be downloaded here. Access is restricted to members of the host website, but a copy of the study can be purchased.

This summary was prepared by TCR news intern John Ramsey. Readers’ comments are welcome.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Nine Die on Chicago’s Worst Crime Weekend in 2018

By Monday morning, at least 56 people had been hit by gunfire in Chicago over the weekend. At least nine of them died. It was the worst weekend for violence in the city this year. More troubling, it was close to comparable weekends in 2016 and 2017, when gun violence hit levels not seen in Chicago in more than a decade.

The weekend began with seven people shot in just an hour on Chicago’s South Side. It ended with 10 people shot in two attacks on the West Side. By Monday morning, at least 56 people had been hit by gunfire in Chicago over the weekend. At least nine of them died, the Chicago Tribune reports. It was the worst weekend for violence in the city this year. More troubling, it was close to comparable weekends in 2016 and 2017, when gun violence hit levels not seen in Chicago in more than a decade. First Deputy Police Superintendent Anthony Riccio said, “We saw an unacceptable and frustrating level of gun violence in several communities.” He added, “There’s too many illegal guns on the street. They’re too easy to get.”

As bad as shootings have been in some parts of the city this year, overall they have been down substantially from the previous two years. At least 59 people were shot in Chicago during the weekend of June 16 last year and again during the weekend of June 17 in 2016. Weather was a factor. Temperatures climbed into the middle 90s both days, drawing more people into the street later into the night. According to police, that usually increases the odds of rivals running into each other or arguments escalating into gunfire. About half the victims were in their 20s. Thirteen were in their teens. Seven were girls and young women.

from https://thecrimereport.org