The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3388.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 9:17 PM

Abstract #70295

Community juvenile justice severity and youth marijuana use and related attitudes: Does the stick get results

Yvonne Terry-McElrath, MSA1, Duane C. McBride, PhD2, and Mark D. Boward, MA2. (1) Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Survey Research Center, Room 2341, 426 Thompson Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2321, 734-647-9142,, (2) Department of Behavioral Science, Andrews University, 123 Nethery Hall, Berrien Springs, MI 49104

Much of the American drug policy debate focuses on whether strongly prohibitionist policies reduce use prevalence and consumption levels. While policy is developed at federal and state levels, implementation occurs at the local level. Using a national, cross-sectional sample of prosecutorial respondents, this paper investigates observed relationships between (a) severity of prosecutor-reported typical adjudication outcomes for first-time juvenile marijuana possession offenders (minimal community reaction, community-based corrections, and placement), and (b) self-reported marijuana use and related attitudes/beliefs obtained from a nationally-representative sample of 8th, 10th, and 12th-grade youth within the jurisdictions of the responding prosecutors (youth data aggregated to the school level). Controlling for community socio-demographics, results indicate that when compared with a usual adjudication outcome of placement, students in communities where the usual adjudication outcome was minimal community reaction reported increased prevalence of use and consumption levels, and show indications of decreased disapproval of use. Students in communities where the usual adjudication outcome was community-based corrections (vs. placement) reported increased consumption levels among users, and increased 12-month prevalence use. While these results do not address causal direction, policy is associated with differences in behavior, with the majority of differences observed between communities with little reaction to a marijuana possession offense, and those with strongly punitive reactions. Communities that focus on community-based corrections (predominantly probation with treatment) may be associated with increased treatment access while not engendering a corresponding relationship with increased use. Observed results may indicate enforcement community norms regarding perceived deviance, rather than substance-specific policy enforcement outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Other Drugs, Criminal Justice

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Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: Bridging the Gap/ImpacTeen
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

State and Community Drug Policies and Their Relationship to Youth Drug Attitudes and Use Patterns

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA