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KWIC Indicator Narrative

Arrests for Drug Use/Possession/Sale

Data Provider: NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services


Related Indicators:

  • Young Adults Arrests - Drug Use/Possession/Sale - ages 18-24 [view data]
  • Youth Arrests - Drug Use/Possession/Sale - under age 18 [view data]

Life Area:

Civic Engagement


Information related to juvenile arrests and criminal activity is collected by the Division of Criminal Justice Services through the Uniform Crime Reporting program. This data is submitted by agencies that follow the reporting guidelines outlined by the Federal Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program which are designed to capture the criminal activity of juveniles. This data is not limited to court or formal arrest actions. Data includes both formal arrests and police contacts with juveniles where there is probable cause that an offense was committed but no formal charges were filed.

Recent data quality reviews showed that reported data appeared to be incomplete for certain counties and agencies. In 2009, DCJS contacted all reporting agencies to reinforce the reporting requirements for UCR juvenile data.

Information related to young adult arrests is derived from the DCJS Computerized Criminal History system. Rates are calculated by dividing the number of reported arrests for controlled substance and marijuana offenses by an estimate of the population of each age group in a particular county or region.



Regular use of controlled substances is strongly related to health, mental health, educational attainment and other social problems for juveniles and young adults.


Community indicators are not direct measures of the population's behavior, but are instead measures of the performance of community service systems that generate them. Indicator data produced by public service or social control agencies are affected by policy shifts, resource fluctuations. degrees of centralization and standardization, local reporting practices and local service delivery differences.

Local qualitative information regarding the 'role' of the indicator in the context of its service setting must be obtained and applied when interpreting the results of indicator-based studies. The rate of young adult drug arrests is a direct measure of the law enforcement response to young adults and drug use and an indirect measure of young adult drug use in the population.

In 2020, arrests declined following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When comparing trends in 2020 to previous years, caution should be used.


  • In 2020, there were 1,893 juvenile (under 18 years old) arrests for drug offenses in non-New York City counties. This represents a decrease of 76 percent from the 7,960 reported in 2017. The rate of drug arrests per 10,000 juveniles in this region fell from 53.4 in 2017 to 13.1 in 2020.
  • Among young adults 18-24 years old, drug arrests declined 78 percent between 2017 and 2020 statewide. The rate of drug arrests among this age group decreased from 142.4 per 10,000 in 2017 to 33.9 in 2020.

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