The Drug War And Mass Incarceration By The Numbers

Huffington Post – by Matt Sledge

NEW YORK — Despite an increased emphasis on treatment and prevention programs in recent years, the Obama administration in its 2013 budget still requested $25.6 billion in federal spending on the drug war. Of that, $15 billion would go to law enforcement, interdiction and international efforts.

The pro-reform Drug Policy Alliance estimates that when you combine state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, the total cost adds up to at least $51 billion per year. Over four decades, the group says, American taxpayers have dished out $1 trillion on the drug war.

What all that money has helped produce — aside from unchanged drug addiction rates — is the world’s highest incarceration rate. According to the Sentencing Project, 2.2 million Americans are in prison or jail.

More than half of federal prisoners are incarcerated for drug crimes in 2010,according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and that number has only just dipped below 50 percent in 2011. Despite more relaxed attitudes among the public at large toward non-violent offenses like marijuana use, the number of people in federal prison for drug offenses spiked from 74,276 in 2000 to 97,472 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The punishment falls disproportionately on people of color. Blacks make up 50 percent of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes. Black kids are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white ones — even though white kids are more likely to abuse drugs.

A chart produced by the American Civil Liberties Union shows just how staggeringly large the US prison population has grown.

5 thoughts on “The Drug War And Mass Incarceration By The Numbers

  1. There is payment for every incarceration … even for the innocent who are incarcerated. We have more people in America incarcerated than China.

    . .

  2. Why do they always separate these numbers by ethnicity (or race) when we’re supposed to be politically correct about these things?

    This article implies that police harass blacks more by saying more of them are in prison while whites are “more likely to use drugs,” and while the numbers of drug users by race may or may not be true, it doesn’t address all of the other factors involved in being arrested, and imprisoned.

    I think white people more likely to buy drugs at a friend’s house and drive home to use them, and blacks are more likely to buy and use them out in the street. If one group is committing a crime in public and the other in private, it only makes sense that the public group will be arrested more often. I also think that black drug users are more likely to have prior criminal records when they go before the judge, and that weighs heavily on the decision to incarcerate too. (even though it’s not supposed to)

    It’s just another example of the public being deceived by the use of poorly collected (or reported) statistical data, but since this is from the Huffington Post, there’s really no reason to expect accurate or honest information anyway.

    1. Feeling trollish today, are we?

      It appears you didn’t care for any of the articles I’ve posted today.

  3. I know you know that I couldn`t resist responding to this article #1 hehe. Ya got to love it when some one gets sent to prison say for 3 – 5 years and the judge always says that you will get the help you need there in prison, those judges always say that. If you get say probation and treatment – well treatment rarely rarely ever works because you have to want to get treatment and most people that I have ever known despise treatment and they just get better drug contacts to hook up with when they get out………….. I think that it is way more than 51 or 52% in favor of legalizing marijuana, it is more like – at least around here – about 70 – 75% for legalizing it.

    1. Apparently one the main reasons they don’t want to legalize it digger, is because of all the medical benefits derived from it.

      Big Pharma would stand to lose big bucks, wouldn’t you say?

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