The nexus between drug use and crime has long been the subject of international and Australian criminological research. In particular, research has focused on the link between drug use and high volume recidivist offending, the results of which have, over the years, inspired a range of policy responses which aim to tackle the problem of drug misuse at all levels of the criminal justice system.
Early intervention with young people, it is hoped, will reduce the prevalence and severity of drug use among future generations while limiting any negative consequences of their contact with the criminal justice system. For those more heavily dependent drug users, drug courts and other more intensive interventions are developed with the hopes of reducing drug dependency and thereby minimising the associated criminal consequences.
In Australia, prison populations have been a key source of data for examining the nexus between drugs and crime, although in many cases the research has focused primarily on the so-called ‘harder’ drug types such as heroin, amphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy.
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