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Pretrial Drug Testing and Defendant Risk

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Volume: 81 Issue: 3 Dated: (Fall 1990) Pages: 585-652
Date Published
68 pages
Research findings demonstrating a link between drug use and delinquency and other types of urban crime have instigated widespread support for pretrial drug testing for criminal defendants.
Other studies have focused on proving that drug abuse can be a predictor of defendant crime; for example, positive urinalysis at the bail stage is related to subsequent criminality or flight by defendants during pretrial release. This research, conducted on a sample of defendants in Dade County (Florida) who were tested voluntarily prior to the bond hearing stage, was designed to determine whether some of the findings produced in earlier studies could be replicated in a different setting. The findings documented a pervasive use of drugs among felony defendants; a large majority tested positive, mostly for cocaine. In addition, the empirical model of defendant rearrest also rank-ordered defendants reasonably well according to the likelihood that they would test positive for cocaine. The results suggest that a classification system could be based more directly on the prediction of likely drug use that builds on the kind of information presently available from pretrial services in advance of bond decisions. 25 tables, 3 figures, 111 notes, and 1 appendix

Date Published: January 1, 1990