People Serving Time in Federal Prisons in the US For Whom Drug Possession is the Most Serious Offense

The US Dept. of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that on Sept. 30, 2012, there were a total of 187,773 people sentenced and serving time in US federal prison for any offense. Of those, 97,214 people (51.8% of the total) had as their most serious charge a drug offense: 96,907 of them for drug trafficking or manufacture (51.6% of the total), 296 for drug possession (0.16% of the total), and 11 for "other"* drug offenses.

(* "Other" includes investing illegal drug profits, operating a commercial carrier under the influence, and drug offenses that involve using the U.S. Postal Service.)


Sam Taxy, Julie Samuels, and William Adams, Urban Institute. “Drug Offenders in Federal Prison: Estimates of Characteristics Based on Linked Data.” NCJ248648. US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics: Washington, DC, Oct. 2015, p. 8, Table 8.