Drugs and Crime in Anchorage: A Note

Drugs and Crime in Anchorage: A Note

Robert H. Langworthy and Alan R. McKelvie

Langworthy, Robert H. and McKelvie, Alan R. (Spring 2005). "Drugs and Crime in Anchorage: A Note." Alaska Justice Forum 22(1): 7. This article examines the relationship between drug use and offense charged through data collected in 2003 from 259 recent arrestees in Anchorage, Alaska using the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) protocol. The analysis is restricted to examining those ADAM participants who tested positive for marijuana and cocaine use.

Data from the 2003 Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program in Anchorage indicate that 66 percent of male arrestees booked into the Anchorage Correctional Complex tested positive for an illegal drug—cocaine, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine or PCP. Marijuana and cocaine were the most frequently detected drugs among arrestees.

The data here represent 259 arrestees from the second and third quarters of 2003 who agreed to be interviewed and provide urine samples. Table 1 presents the number and percentage of these arrestees who tested positive for either marijuana or cocaine. The analysis was restricted to those using marijuana or cocaine because other drugs were detected so infrequently that analysis of their relation to the charged offense would be meaningless. The results are grouped by charge category—violent, property and other offenses. (Though specific charges are also presented in the table, the number of entries for some individual charges are also too few for meaningful analysis.)

The most striking findings were:

• the high incidence of marijuana use among the arrestee population, with 44 percent testing positive;

• the consistency in rates of marijuana detection across categories of charges, with approximately 45 percent of offenders across all offense types testing positive for this drug;

• the variability in rates of cocaine detection across charge categories, ranging from 20 percent positive with violent offense charges to 43 percent with property offense charges.

The ADAM program was conducted by the Justice Center in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Corrections from 1998 through 2003.

Table 1. Percent of Arrestees Testing Positive for Marijuana or Cocaine by Type of Offense, Anchorage, Alaska, 2003

Robert Langworthy is director of the Justice Center. Alan McKelvie is director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center, which is part of the Justice Center.