Researching drug crime using qualitative methods

Authored by: Ralph A. Weisheit

The Routledge Handbook of Qualitative Criminology

Print publication date:  March  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415659703
eBook ISBN: 9780203074701
Adobe ISBN: 9781135114947


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There are few crimes that command more criminal justice resources and that have a greater impact on families and communities than those associated with illicit drugs. Drug misuse is a global problem, leaving no nation untouched. In the United States, more people are arrested for drug violations than for any other type of crime, and, as a result, more people are in prison for drug violations than for any other type of crime. As these are illicit activities, understanding the nature and extent of the problem is a challenge. Drug users and dealers have good reasons to remain hidden from public view. At the same time, the problem begs answers to some important questions: Who are the drug users and the drug dealers? What factors influence their initiation, continued use, and desistance from illicit drug use and/or drug dealing? How do they obtain access to illicit drugs? What is the impact of their activities on their lives, their families, and their community? Qualitative research is an important tool for answering these questions.

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