Document Type



Published in: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, Vol. 20 No. 4, November 2004. p. 369-392


Although research generally assumes a close relationship between drugs and violence, very little is known about the many different roles drugs can play in criminal events. Drug related as an event classification scheme is relatively common in homicide research, as well as other areas of inquiry, and is usually understood to be an important component in the causal processes of criminal events. Yet such classification schemes often suggest a simple, unidimensional construct. In reality, drug-related crimes are com-plex events. The purpose of this researchwas first to disaggregate the concept of drug-related homicide by providing an event classification scheme that conceptualizes the diverse roles drugs play in drug-related events.Acategorical coding scheme is presented that is similar to that proposed by Goldstein (1995) and later tested by Brownstein and colleagues (Brownstein & Goldstein, 1990; Brownstein, Baxi, Goldstein, & Ryan, 1992) that specifies three distinct types of homicide events. Included among these are (a) events that involved no evidence of illicit drugs associated with the homicide event, (b) those that involved the presence of drugs or drug use at the scene as well as events where either the victim and/or offender were buying or selling drugs (we term this peripherally drug-related homicides), and (c) events where the sale or use of drugswas the motivating feature of the homicide event. In some situations, there may be overlap between categories b and c; however, category c is distinct in that it includes features of motivation. The second purpose was to determine the relative importance of various situational and contextual characteristics of homicide events in understanding different types of drug-related events. Delineating these features will be an important step in filling in the gaps of knowledge about the assumed relationship between drugs and violence.