Race and the Drug War

Drug Policy Question of the Week – 1-27-12

As answered by Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts for the Drug Truth Network on 1-27-12. http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/3725

Question of the Week: What about race and the drug war?

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hispanics comprised 16.3% of the U.S. population. Whites and blacks equaled 72.5% and 12.6% respectively.

Findings from the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that rates of substance abuse or dependence that to be “9.7 percent for Hispanics, 8.9 percent for whites, and 8.2 percent for blacks.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, “At the end of 2008, the largest percentage of persons living with a diagnosis of HIV infection —48%— were blacks…. Among the remaining racial/ethnic groups, the percentages were 33%, whites; 17%, Hispanics/Latinos;” Infection by injection drug use is highest among blacks.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that, of the estimated 242,200 prisoners under state jurisdiction sentenced for drug offenses in 2009, 17.3% were Hispanic, 30.4% were white, and 50.5% were black.

Let’s review the numbers.

9.7% of Hispanics are drug abusers. Hispanics represent 16.3% of the population, 17% of persons living with HIV and 17% of drug offenders in state prison.

8.9% of Whites are drug abusers. Whites encompass 72.5% of the population, 33% of those living with HIV and 30.4% of drug offenders in state prison.

Only 8.2% of Blacks are drug abusers. Blacks equal 12.6% of the population, but 48% all HIV patients and 50.5% of offenders in state prisoners on drug charges.

As stated by the Cato Institute,

“If we truly want to get past race in this country, we must be aware that it will never happen until the futile War on Drugs so familiar to us now is a memory.”

These facts and others like them can be found in the Race and HIV and Drug Usage Chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.