Prisons & Drug Offenders

Statistics and other data regarding people under the control of the corrections system because of a drug offense. This includes people serving time in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities, as well as people sentenced to probation or serving time on parole.

Incarceration Not Effective At Reducing Drug Use Or Related Problems

"Although no amount of policy analysis can resolve disagreements about how much punishment drug offenses deserve, research does make clear that some strategies for reducing drug use and crime are more effective than others and that imprisonment ranks near the bottom of that list. And surveys have found strong public support for changing how states and the federal government respond to drug crimes.

No Relationship Between Drug Imprisonment Rates and States' Drug Problems

"One primary reason for sentencing an offender to prison is deterrence—conveying the message that losing one’s freedom is not worth whatever one gains from committing a crime. If imprisonment were an effective deterrent to drug use and crime, then, all other things being equal, the extent to which a state sends drug offenders to prison should be correlated with certain drug-related problems in that state. The theory of deterrence would suggest, for instance, that states with higher rates of drug imprisonment would experience lower rates of drug use among their residents.

Prisons - Data - Number of People Serving Time in State Prisons for Drug Offenses

State- and Local-Specific Data

(Number of People Serving Time in State Prisons in the US for Drug Offenses) According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the estimated 206,300 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction serving time for drug offenses at year-end 2014, 67,800 were non-Latino whites (32.9%), 68,000 were non-Latino African Americans (33.0%), 28,800 were Hispanic (7.2%). The ethnicity of the remaining 41,700 is not reported, meaning they could have been of another ethnicity, multiracial, or unknown.

Estimated Number of People Sentenced To Federal Prison For Drug Offenses

Federal-Specific Data

(Estimated Number of People Sentenced To Federal Prison For Drug Offenses) "More than half (54%) of drug offenders in the federal prison system had a form of cocaine (powder or crack) as the primary drug type (table 2). Methamphetamine offenders (24%) accounted for the next largest share, followed by marijuana (12%) and heroin (6%) offenders. Offenders convicted of crimes involving other drugs (including LSD, some prescription drugs, and MDMA or ecstasy) made up 3% of offenders."

State Felony Drug Convictions

(State Felony Drug Convictions) "State courts sentenced an estimated 1,132,290 persons for a felony in 2006, including 206,140 (or 18% of all felony convictions) for a violent felony (table 1.1). A drug crime was the most serious conviction offense for about a third of felons sentenced in state courts that year."