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NIJ Study Says Meth and Violence 
Connection is Overstated


Summer 1999

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Justice Department's research branch, reported on May 4 that the connection between methamphetamine and violent crime is commonly exaggerated (Susan Pennell, et al., Meth Matters: Report on Methamphetamine Users in Five Western Cities, National Institute of Justice, April 1999; Bill Romano, "Justice Department Report Contradicts Common Perception," San Jose Mercury News, May 5, 1999; Michelle Williams, "Popularity of Methamphetamines Surges, Report Says," SeattleTimes, May 5, 1999).

The study examined the charges and drug use history of 7,355 persons arrested in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Portland, and Phoenix between 1996 and 1997. According to the study, users of methamphetamine were significantly less likely to be charged with a violent offense than other drug arrestees. Of the methamphetamine users studied, only 16% were arrested for violent behavior. Running contrary to common perception, the research showed that non-meth arrestees were significantly more likely to be arrested for a violent offense.

Jack Riley, director of the NIJ's drug abuse monitoring program, said that the report's conclusions were not particularly surprising to him. Riley said, "I think it's a common misconception that methamphetamine is concretely linked to violent crime. . .That's not to say meth is not involved in violent crime. But it is not disproportionately linked to it."

Jack Riley - National Institute of Justice, 810 7th St., NW, Washington, DC 20531, Tel: (202) 616-9030, E-mail: <>, Report on-line: <>.