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.