September 23, 2007

A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society

Posted in Health, Mental Health, Social Science at 6:25 pm by AAL

A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society (PDF; 414 KB)
Source: The Sentencing Project
From press release:

The Sentencing Project has released a new report that examines the burden of the “war on drugs” on the criminal justice system and American communities. A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society assesses the strategy of combating drug abuse primarily with enhanced punishments at the expense of investments in treatment and prevention.

The report documents how the drug war has produced a record expansion of prison and jail systems and highlights additional indicators of the war’s impact on the criminal justice system and communities, including:

  • Drug arrests have more than tripled since 1980 to a record 1.8 million by 2005;
  • Four of five (81.7%) drug arrests were for possession offenses, and 42.6% were for marijuana charges in 2005;
  • Nearly six in 10 persons in state prison for a drug offense have no history of violence or high-level drug selling;
  • Only 14% of persons in 2004 who report using drugs in the month before their arrest had participated in a treatment program, a decline of more than half from participation rates in 1991;
  • A shortage of treatment options in many low-income neighborhoods contributes to drug abuse being treated primarily as a criminal justice problem, rather than a social problem.

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