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ERIC Number: ED446170
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Jul
Pages: 37
Abstractor: N/A
Poor Prescription: The Costs of Imprisoning Drug Offenders in the United States. Policy Report.
Schiraldi, Vincent; Holman, Barry; Beatty, Phillip
Using data from the National Corrections Reporting Program, this study examined trends in imprisoning drug offenders in the United States, focusing on the numbers of incarcerated drug offenders and the relationship between incarceration for drug use and rates of drug use. Overall, the increase in drug admissions to prison from 1986 to 1996 is astonishing. In 1996 there were nearly four times as many admissions as only 10 years before. Increases in incarceration for drug use far surpassed increases in commitments for other nonviolent and violent offenses. The growth in drug commitments has been disproportionately borne by blacks. Even in the states with a decrease in commitments for drug use, Hawaii and West Virginia, the decrease has been entirely attributable to a decrease in white incarceration. From 1986 to 1996, there has been a 291 percent increase in the rates at which young people were incarcerated because of drug involvement. Little connection has been found between drug incarceration rates and drug use. In spite of the massive increase in drug admissions to prison for young people, a recent study found that drug use among high school students increased in the 1990s, with twice as many high school students reporting the use of cocaine. Faced with the increasing numbers of people incarcerated for drug use and the human and economic costs they reflect, states are beginning to experiment with ways to address substance abuse without unnecessary imprisonment. Among these propositions are reform initiatives in Arizona and New York that provide substance abuse treatment to nonviolent offenders in place of incarceration. (Contains 11 graphs, 10 tables, and 39 endnotes.) (SLD)
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, 1622 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Tel: 415-621-5661; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Open Society Inst., New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Justic Policy Inst., Washington, DC.
Note: The Lindesmith Center provided assistance.