Race Differences in Drug Offending and Drug Distribution Arrests

Ojmarrh Mitchell, Michael S. Caudy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The War on Drugs’ emphasis on apprehending low-level drug offenders dramatically increased the number of arrests for drug distribution and exacerbated racial and ethnic disparities in such arrests. Although these disparities have been the topic of much discussion, they rarely have been the subject of multivariate empirical scrutiny. This research examines the degree to which race differences in drug offending, nondrug offending, and community context explain race differences in the likelihood of experiencing a drug distribution arrest in a longitudinal sample of youthful respondents (age 12-29). Our results indicate that in comparison with White drug offenders, Hispanic drug offenders’ greater likelihood of arrest is largely due to differences in community context; however, African Americans’ greater likelihood of arrest is not explained by differences in offending or community context. The policy implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-112
Number of pages22
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • drug offending
  • drug sales
  • race and crime
  • race and drug offending

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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