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    MaryJane 9:29 pm on July 21, 2012 Permalink  

    Stop and Frisk 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 7-21-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 7-21-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3945

    Question of the Week: What is Stop and Frisk?

    A May 2011 briefing paper from the Drug Policy Alliance defines a “stop” as

    “the practice of police officers stopping individuals on the street to question them.”

    A pat-down frisk is

    “a limited search subject to the requirements of the Fourth Amendment. It involves a police officer patting down an individual’s outer clothing, and only his outer clothing, if and only if, pursuant to a lawful forcible stop, the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the individual stopped is armed and dangerous.”

    While the Alliance’s briefing paper advises people,

    “to ask the police officer politely whether you are free to leave or not,”

    it concedes that the

    “catch … is that the cops are not required to tell individuals this; most young people stopped on the street don’t know it; and the cops often trick them into “consenting.”

    New York City has made these “Stop and Frisk” searches famous.

    An analysis by the New York Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, released this past May, found that,

    “the [New York Police Department] conducted nearly 700,000 stops in 2011. The total of 685,724 stops marked an increase of 84,439 (14 percent) stops from 2010. During the 10 years of the Bloomberg administration, there have been 4,356,927 stops.”

    The Drug Policy Alliance summarized the impact of “Stop and Frisk:”

    “… marijuana possession is now the number one arrest in New York City. More than 50,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in 2010 alone, comprising one out of every seven arrests (15 percent). We contend that many of these arrests are the result of illegal searches or false charges.”

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 8:02 pm on February 28, 2012 Permalink  

    Race and Prison 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 2-28-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 2-28-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3770

    Question of the Week: How many people of color are under the control of the U.S. corrections system?

    In its analysis of racial disparities in California, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice offered these stark contrasts,

    “Compared to Non-blacks, California’s African-American population are 4 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana, 12 times more likely to be imprisoned for a marijuana felony arrest, and 3 times more likely to be imprisoned per marijuana possession arrest. Overall, these disparities accumulate to 10 times’ greater odds of an African-American being imprisoned for marijuana than other racial/ethnic groups.”

    When minorities go to prison, they become caught up in a criminal justice web that includes, not only federal, state and local prisons, but also probation and parole. A new Drug War Facts table using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics attempts to provide accurate national estimates concerning their numbers.

    From the table, of the 7.2 million individuals who found themselves in the criminal justice web in 2009, at least 3.6 million or about half belonged to a minority group. Blacks represented about one third, a percentage roughly three times their 12% portion of the U.S. population. The proportion of Hispanics/Latinos held steady over the past 20 years at about 16%. But, when it comes to prison, a consistent 60% of inmates – about 1.3 million – count themselves among those two minority groups.

    As the Drug Policy Alliance lamented,

    “Mass arrests and incarceration of people of color – largely due to drug law violations – have hobbled families and communities by stigmatizing and removing substantial numbers of men and women.”

    These Facts, numbers and others like them can be found in the Race & Prison Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 9:19 pm on February 15, 2012 Permalink  

    Changing Prisoner Numbers 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 2-15-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 2-15-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3752

    Question of the Week: Why have the counts of drug prisoners changed?

    Government reports are notoriously foggy when it comes to those incarcerated for “drugs.” Divining these elusive numbers requires a spreadsheet and a detailed search of the Bureau of Justice Statistics for numbers buried in some years, but missing from others. Some numbers must simply be computed.

    This is the case with probation and parole, for which two different values are reported. For example, Appendix Table 15 of the “Probation and Parole in the United States 2009” report displays percentages for “Characteristics of adults on parole,” including those for “Drug” as the “Most Serious Offense.”   This table indicates that 36% of parolees had “Drugs” as their most serious offense in 2009. Multiplying the 819,000 total 2009 parolees times this 36% produces a count of 295,000 of parolees with “Drug” offenses. However, the numeric counts of “drug” parolees reported in the report’s Appendix Table 20 produce a lesser percentage of parolees with drug offenses – 32%. The same problem can be found in the probation numbers.

    Further, reports going back to 1990 contain these kinds of percentages, enabling better trending.

    Thus, the new Drug War Facts table that displays the number persons under the control of the U.S. corrections system has been updated with numbers derived from the percentage of total calculations.

    Here’s the bottom line. Over 1.7 million probationers, parolees and state and federal prisoners were under the control of the U.S. corrections in 2009 with “drugs” as their most serious offense. This represents over one quarter of the estimated 7.3 million individuals on probation, parole or in prison that year.

    These facts and others like them in the Prisons & Drug Offenders Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 9:35 pm on February 6, 2012 Permalink  

    Drug Prisoners 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 2-6-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 2-6-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3741

    Question of the Week: How many people are under the control of the U.S. corrections system for drugs?

    Various reports from the Bureau of Justice Statistics detail characteristics of the U.S. criminal justice system that includes those housed in federal, state, and local prisons and jails, along with those on probation or parole.

    The “Prisoners” report series represents a good place to start counting. This annual series goes back almost 20 years to the “Prisoners in 1994” report. Remarkably, 8,800 persons were admitted to state prison for drug offenses directly from court in 1980. Fast forward twelve years to 1992 – that number soared by +1155% to 101,000.

    The newly released “Prisoners in 2009” report placed the number of offenders in state prison with “drugs” as their most serious offense at 242,000 in 2009.

    The report quantified the number of federal prisoners with a similar offense at 95,000 in 2009. This represented growth by a whopping +1843 over the 4,900 “drug” federal drug prisoners in 1980.

    The Bureau of Justice Statistics also has a comparable series of annual reports on Probation and Parole. According to the 2009 report by that name, only 3,486 adults were on federal probation with drugs as their most serious offense. However, there were 579,000 state “drug” probationers that year.

    Federal parolees with drug offenses equaled 55,000 in 2009 and state parolees counted 207,000 for similar convictions.

    Thus, over 1.2 million probationers, parolees and state and federal prisoners were under control of the U.S. corrections system in 2009 with “drugs” as their most serious offense.

    These numbers can be found in a new Drug War Facts table along with other Facts like them in the Prisons and Drug Offenders Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 5:06 pm on January 18, 2012 Permalink  

    Private Prisons 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 1-18-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 1-18-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3715

    Question of the Week: What are private prisons?

    Last week we talked about the number of people under control of the U.S. criminal justice system. As noted, tables based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the Prisons and Jails chapter of Drug War Facts show about 1.3 million people housed in state facilities in 2010.

    Incarcerating all of those state prisoners cost approximately $51 billion in 2010 according to the National Association of State Budget Officers, almost 20% more than 2005. Further, according to the BJS, in 2010,

    “Nineteen state systems were operating above their highest capacity, with seven states at least 25% over their highest capacity at yearend 2010, led by Alabama at 196% and Illinois at 144%.”

    “… spending growth on corrections has slowed considerably due to widespread revenue shortfalls and limited resources,” said the NASBO.

    What’s a cash-strapped state to do? One answer seems to lie in privately run prisons, now housing about 94,000 state inmates who represent nearly 7% of all state prisoners and an increase in the prisoner count of about 31% over the year 2000.

    The American Civil Liberties Union confirmed that,

    “Private prisons for adults were virtually non-existent until the early 1980s, but the number of prisoners in private prisons increased by approximately 1600% between 1990 and 2009. Today, for-profit companies are responsible for approximately 6% of state prisoners, 16% of federal prisoners, and, according to one report, nearly half of all immigrants detained by the federal government. In 2010, the two largest private prison companies [Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group [then called Wackenhut Corrections Corporation] alone received nearly $3 billion dollars in revenue”

    These facts and others like them can be found in the Prisons and Jails Chapters of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 9:53 pm on January 15, 2012 Permalink  

    US Criminal Justice System 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 1-11-12

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 1-11-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3706

    Question of the Week: How many people are under the control of the U.S. criminal justice system?

    An April 2011 report by the Justice Policy Institute begins by stating,

    “The United States is home to the world’s largest prison population. … the U.S. has only 5 percent of the world’s population but holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners …”

    There are several components to the U.S. criminal justice system. Quoting the Institute,

    “The entry point into the criminal justice system is typically through law enforcement. … In the U.S., when a person is charged with an offense they may be detained in jail until their trial or they may be released to await their trial in the community through a variety of mechanisms … people are said to be “remanded,” which is a summons to appear before a judge at a later date. If they are not released pretrial they can be “remanded to custody” until their court proceeding; if they are convicted, they can be remanded to custody prior to sentencing or during an appeal process … Pretrial detention is associated with a higher likelihood of both being found guilty and receiving a sentence of incarceration over probation, thus forcing a person further into the criminal justice system. In the United States, this is particularly important because of the sheer numbers”

    What are those numbers?

    In 2010 there were approximately:

    4,000,000 people on probation

    840,000 on parole

    207,000 in federal prison

    1,300,000 in state prison

    and 749,000 in local jails

    For a total of 7,100,000 people under the control of the U.S. Criminal Justice system.

    These facts and others like them can be found in the “U.S. Corrections Population” Table in  Prisons & Jails Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     
  • avatar

    MaryJane 9:28 pm on January 15, 2012 Permalink  

    Marijuana Prisoners 

    Drug Policy Question of the Week – 12-19-11

    As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 12-19-11. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3677

    Question of the Week: How many people are in prison for marijuana?

    Aficionados will recall that there are important statistics in drug policy that must be computed. These include the number of marijuana arrests and the number of people behind bars for marijuana offenses.

    To calculate the number of “marijuana prisoners,” two reports are necessary.

    Report #1 is “Prisoners in 2004,” from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Table 1, page 2. Find these numbers:

    Total Federal Prisoners in 2004 =  170,535

    Total State Prisoners in 2004 =  1,244,311

    Report #2 is, “Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004,” again from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, page. 4. Find these numbers:

    Percent of federal prisoners held for drug law violations in 2004 = 55%

    Percent of state prisoners held for drug law violations in 2004 = 21%

    Marijuana/hashish, Percent of federal drug offenders, 2004 = 12.4%

    Marijuana/hashish, Percent of state drug offenders, 2004 = 12.7%

    Now, do the math,

    Multiply total prisoners times the percent of prisoners held for drug law violations. Then multiply this product times the percentage of marijuana offenders. The result is:

    Federal marijuana prisoners, 2004 = 11,630

    State marijuana prisoners, 2004 = 33,186

    Total federal and state marijuana prisoners in 2004 = 44,816

    Thus, those in prison for marijuana offenses represent about 12.6% of those incarcerated for drug law violations and 3.2% of total state and federal prisoners. It should be noted that these numbers exclude those among the 700,000+ inmates who may be in local jail because of a marijuana arrest.

    These facts and others like them can be found in the Prisons and Drugs Chapter of Drug War Facts at http://www.drugwarfacts.org.

     
  • avatar

    Matt 1:42 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink  

    Book Review – A Plague of Prisons 

    Cover
    by Craig Jones Former Executive Director, The John Howard Society of Canada.

    A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America / By Ernest Drucker, The New Press, 2011, pp. xiv, 211

    Every student of epidemiology learns the story of the Broad Street pump (London, Summer 1854), which marks the birth of epidemiology. In A Plague of Prisons, Ernest Drucker uses that story as a metaphor to explain the explosion of incarceration in the United States that followed the 1973 enactment of the Rockefeller drug laws and to illustrate how political decisions act as vectors – pumps – and how these vectors create a social epidemic of gargantuan proportions. Drucker is professor emeritus of family and social medicine at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was present at the creation of the AIDS epidemic in the Bronx in the early 1980s and watched how politics, ignorance, homophobia and racism facilitated the transmission of disease from certain neighborhoods and populations to a much larger population via the Riker’s Island prison.