The effect of drug arrest on subsequent drug offending and social bonding

Ojmarrh Mitchell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An enduring legacy of the war on drugs is a law enforcement emphasis on arresting low-level drug offenders. Policymakers assert that drug arrests reduce subsequent drug offending; yet, scant research assesses the specific deterrent effects of drug arrest. Likewise, little research examines the collateral consequences of drug arrest on measures of social bonding. NLSY97 data were used to examine the effect of drug arrest on drug offending (marijuana use, hard drug use, drug sales) and social bonding (highest grade, weeks employed, annual income). Results indicate that drug arrest did not reduce any measure of drug offending but had considerable negative consequences on blacks employment outcomes. These findings suggest that recent policy proposals to de-emphasize low-level drug arrests are unlikely to increase drug offending and may reduce the negative collateral consequences of drug arrest at least for blacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-188
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug policy
  • drug offending
  • fixed-effects models
  • race and crime
  • specific deterrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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