Drug-crime connection in Turkey
The nexus between drug use and criminal behavior has long been one of the hot topics in criminology literature. Particularly, prevalence of drug use among criminal offenders, criminal behavior among drug abusers, and possible causal links between drug use and criminal behavior have been investigated in Western nations through large scale surveys on general public and with studies and tests on criminal populations. However, despite unprecedented increases of drug-related crimes and the skyrocketing illicit drug use among general public as well as among criminals, this line of research is very limited and there is a lack of scientific knowledge about the interaction between illicit drug use and criminal conduct in Turkey. Presenting the results of the author's own research on criminal offenders, this study reports the findings of the first study on drug-crime relationship in Turkey. Findings reveal that more than half of all prisoners (52%) used at least one type of drug in their lifetime and more than one third of the prisoners (37%) were under the influence of drugs at the time of committing crime. Regarding the onset of illicit drug use and criminal behavior, we found that more than two thirds, or 69% to be more precise, of the prisoners began using drugs prior to committing their first crime whereas 17% of the prisoners’ criminal behavior use precedes first drug use. For 14% of the prison inmates, criminal involvement and drug use took place simultaneously at the same age. Findings revealed that the average number of crimes committed by non-drug user offenders were 4.28, drug using offenders committed an average number of 15.94 crimes. The average number of crimes by drug types show that volatile substance users commit highest number of crimes on average (26.55) whereas cannabis users committed the least number of crimes among all drug users (16.22). While there were significant differences among drug types, on average half of all crimes committed by drug user offenders were committed to obtain drugs. When we analyzed the drug-crime type interaction, we have found that drug user offenders mainly commit property crimes, and then drug-related crimes and crimes against persons. Results of this first study on drug-crime connection show that drug use is an important factor in initiation and acceleration of criminal behavior among criminal offenders in Turkey.