Date of Defense

Spring 4-15-1997



First Advisor

Zoann Snyder-Joy, Sociology

Second Advisor

Susan Caringella-MacDonals, Sociology

Third Advisor

William G. Schma, Kalamazoo Circuit Court


In 1992, it was estimated that 40% of all prisoners were convicted of a drug related offense and over 60% of inmates had some sort of substance abuse problem. A study conducted in 23 cities in the United States indicated that, of the people arrested in these cities, 65% of men and 57% of women were under the influence of an illicit drug at the time of arrest. National statistics suggest that 60 to 85% of defendants are either facing drug related charges or are charged with other property offenses meant to support their addiction. Substance abuse and addiction each pose unique problems for the criminal justice system. Some receive minor sentences and no treatment, thus return to the street to use drugs and commit crimes only to enter the system again. Even incarceration does little to stop the "revolving door" of the criminal justice system. Drug treatment substantially reduces drug use and criminal activity and increases occurrences of self-supporting employment. Judges, however, have little discretion in sentencing. The focus of this research is to determine what, if anything, is working with regard to drugs and the criminal justice system and to explore what more can be done to help save us from addiction.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only