. "Violence and Intentional Injuries: Criminal Justice and Public Health Perspectives on an Urgent National Problem." Understanding and Preventing Violence, Volume 4: Consequences and Control. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1994.
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Understanding and Preventing Violence: Volume 4 - Consequences and Control
and the criminal justice community's concerns—despite the fact that a plausible argument can be made that the observed connection between drugs and crime is produced as much by the policies designed to control drug use as by the physiological effects of drugs themselves, and that the drug most commonly associated with violence is alcohol (Chaiken and Chaiken, 1990; Fagan, 1990).
At any rate, seeing drugs as criminogenic has generated a major criminal justice effort to reduce levels of drug consumption through both supply reduction and demand reduction efforts (Office of National Drug Control Policy, 1989-1991). Supply reduction efforts include arrests of traffickers and street level dealers (Moore, 1990; Kleiman, 1990). Demand reduction efforts focus enforcement attention on users. Some police departments, despairing of the competence of educational institutions to communicate the proper message, have established their own efforts in schools to educate children about the use of drugs (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1988; Kennedy School of Government, 1990).
This major effort to reduce drug use is thus not simply a moral crusade by the criminal justice community but also, in its eyes, a straightforward way of preventing criminal violence by controlling an important risk factor.
Since the repeal of Prohibition, alcohol has been less on the minds of the criminal justice community than drugs, but it has never been entirely absent. Studies of domestic assaults, assaults among strangers in public locations, and sexual assaults among intimates and acquaintances often reveal a disproportionate amount of drinking—by either the offender, the victim, or both (Fagan, 1990).
Thus, one might view drunkenness, and particularly public drunkenness, as criminogenic. Similarly, we know that excessive drinking figures prominently in highway fatalities (National Committee for Injury Prevention and Control, 1989:119-120).
What is interesting, however, is that the society has responded to these facts in quite different ways.
Over the last 20 years, the trend has been to "decriminalize" public drunkenness and to treat it as a medical problem. The intention was to discourage police from arresting people for public drunkenness and instead to transport or refer intoxicated people to medical services. What has actually occurred is that the police have simply stopped paying much attention to public drunkenness (Aaronson et al., 1982).
With respect to drunk driving, the trend over the last 10 years has been in exactly the opposite direction: society is increasingly treating drunk driving as a serious crime. It is stiffening the laws