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Criminal Justice Responses to Crack

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 28 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1991) Pages: 55-74
Date Published
20 pages
This study is based on analyses of the 3,404 crack arrests that occurred between August and October 1986 in New York City.
Implemented during the early stages of the crack epidemic, the analyses included the characteristics of defendants, charges, case dispositions, and sentences. The comparison sample consisted of powdered cocaine arrests from 1983 to 1984. Criminal justice system responses toward crack have emphasized street-level enforcement in neighborhoods throughout the city, widespread arrests for sale and possession, more stringent charging decisions, and harsher sentences, contributing to case delay, detention overcrowding, and increased caseloads throughout the criminal justice system. Crack charges had significant independent effect on lower court dispositions and the pretrial release decision, relative to offender characteristics and prior criminal record. This response to crack reflects social policies in which prosecutors, judges, and corrections officials were forced to quickly respond to a burgeoning crack caseload during a climate of general rejection of rehabilitative ideology. 6 tables, 10 notes, and 34 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1991