African Americans are disproportionately represented in national crime statistics for arrests and incarceration as well as victimization, particularly for drug-related and violent offenses. Their involvement in crime often represents only one component of a well-recognized cluster of negative experiences and circumstances including drug use problems, socioeconomic disadvantage and poor physical and mental health, sometimes evident in childhood. The cost to individuals, families, and society is enormous, yet we know little about the development of these patterns across the life course. Despite these evident disparities, few studies have examined the development of drug use and criminal behaviors over time within African American community populations, especially into mid adulthood. We intend to study the timing and sources of risk over the life span to better understand the disparities in health and social consequences related to criminal justice issues among African Americans. To that end, we request support to analyze existing crime and drug data covering 35 years in the lives of a cohort of first grade, African American children from inner city Chicago. This prospective developmental study (the Woodlawn project) began in 1966-67, with the most recent follow up in 2002-3 at ages 42-43, and interim assessments in adolescence and early adulthood (age 32-33). The study population had high levels of drug use and criminal activity in adulthood. In the proposed project, we will focus on interrelationships of drug abuse and crime, examining predictors and consequences of drug abuse, criminal activity, and involvement with the criminal justice system. Using data from cohort members, mothers, interviewers, and official criminal records, we will identify 1) patterns of drug use and criminal behaviors over the life course;2) individual and contextual predictors of later drug use, criminal activity/behaviors, and involvement with the criminal justice system;3) social, economic, and health consequences of drug use, criminal behaviors, and involvement in the criminal justice system. Of particular interest is how drug use in adolescence and early adulthood relates to the risk of being arrested and incarcerated and, conversely, how early arrests and incarceration influence later drug use and criminal behaviors. This information will further our understanding of the etiology and consequences of crime and drug use into mid adulthood, and inform the design of interventions at various stages along the life course.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Behavioral Genetics and Epidemiology Study Section (BGES)
Program Officer
Deeds, Bethany
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Strong, Carol; Juon, Hee-Soon; Ensminger, Margaret E (2016) Effect of Adolescent Cigarette Smoking on Adulthood Substance Use and Abuse: The Mediating Role of Educational Attainment. Subst Use Misuse 51:141-54
Juon, Hee-Soon; Evans-Polce, Rebecca J; Ensminger, Margaret (2014) Early life conditions of overall and cause-specific mortality among inner-city African Americans. Am J Public Health 104:548-54
Evans-Polce, Rebecca J; Doherty, Elaine E; Ensminger, Margaret E (2014) Taking a life course approach to studying substance use treatment among a community cohort of African American substance users. Drug Alcohol Depend 142:216-23
Doherty, Elaine Eggleston; Ensminger, Margaret E (2013) Marriage and Offending among a Cohort of Disadvantaged African Americans. J Res Crime Delinq 50:104-131
Green, Kerry M; Fothergill, Kate E; Robertson, Judith A et al. (2013) Early life predictors of adult depression in a community cohort of urban African Americans. J Urban Health 90:101-15
Doherty, Elaine Eggleston; Robertson, Judith A; Green, Kerry M et al. (2012) A longitudinal study of substance use and violent victimization in adulthood among a cohort of urban African Americans. Addiction 107:339-48
Doherty, Elaine Eggleston; Green, Kerry M; Ensminger, Margaret E (2012) The Impact of Adolescent Deviance on Marital Trajectories. Deviant Behav 33:185-206
Green, Kerry M; Doherty, Elaine E; Fothergill, Kate E et al. (2012) Marriage Trajectories and Health Risk Behaviors Throughout Adulthood Among Urban African Americans. J Fam Issues 33:1595-1618
Green, Kerry M; Zebrak, Katarzyna A; Robertson, Judith A et al. (2012) Interrelationship of substance use and psychological distress over the life course among a cohort of urban African Americans. Drug Alcohol Depend 123:239-48
Juon, Hee-Soon; Fothergill, Kate E; Green, Kerry M et al. (2011) Antecedents and consequences of marijuana use trajectories over the life course in an African American population. Drug Alcohol Depend 118:216-23

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications