"Explosion in incarcerations since the 1980s. Under the 'war on drugs,' aggressive policing drove up the percentage of those in state prisons for drug offenses from 6.4 percent in 1980 to 22 percent in 1990. More minor drug charges made it easier for prosecutors to push felony charges by citing a defendant’s prior record. These convictions triggered harsh sentences under new guidelines like California’s 'three strikes' law, passed during the same period. The enforcement of these punitive new laws was, and remains, racist: according to the ACLU, black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, though they are equally likely to use. This, in turn, makes black people vulnerable to the rest of the criminal-justice system."
Drugs and Crime Facts: Drug Use and Crime. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics: "In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs. In 2002 about a quarter of convicted property and drug offenders in local jails had committed their crimes to get money for drugs, compared to 5% of violent and public order offenders. Among state prisoners in 2004 the pattern was similar, with property (30%) and drug offenders (26%) more likely to commit their crimes for drug money than violent (10%) and public-order offenders (7%). In federal prisons property offenders (11%) were less than half as likely as drug offenders (25%) to report drug money as a motive in their offenses."
16.1% is the percentage of parole violators returned to state prisons in 1997 for drug related violations; for failing drug tests, possession of drugs, failing to report for drug testing, failing to report for alcohol or drug treatment. Info is from Table 21 of this report: Trends in State Parole, 1990-2000. NCJ 184735. October 2001. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Jimmie Carter:Call Off the Global Drug War. In New York Times: "Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pointed out that, in 1980, 10 percent of his state’s budget went to higher education and 3 percent to prisons; in 2010, almost 11 percent went to prisons and only 7.5 percent to higher education. Maybe the increased tax burden on wealthy citizens necessary to pay for the war on drugs will help to bring about a reform of America’s drug policies." -- June 16, 2011 article.
Still, it is the length of sentences that truly distinguishes American prison policy. Indeed, the mere number of sentences imposed here would not place the United States at the top of the incarceration lists. If lists were compiled based on annual admissions to prison per capita, several European countries would outpace the United States. But American prison stays are much longer, so the total incarceration rate is higher.... "Rises and falls in Canada's crime rate have closely paralleled America's for 40 years," Mr. Tonry wrote last year. "But its imprisonment rate has remained stable."
2003.Federal Judge Quits, Calls Judicial System Unjust. Associated Press (AP) story, National Public Radio interview, and Judge John S. Martin's statement. "The result, he said, is a slew of lengthy prison sentences for low-level drug dealers 'who society failed at every step.' ... While many judges have criticized sentencing guidelines, it is unusual for a judge to publicly cite the frustrations of the job in stepping down." -June 25 2003 AP story. See also: Let Judges Do Their Jobs. By Hon. John S. Martin Jr..
See Wikipedia: Mandatory sentencing. See also this page. Mandatory Minimum sentencing is often used for non-violent crimes such as drug possession. It is a modern-day way to create concentration camps for drug-using "undesirables." Sentences that usually do not allow parole until at least around 80% of the sentence served. Federal laws, and most states, have mandatory minimums. The majority of U.S. prisoners are in due to the drug war in some way or another.
Number and percentage of prisoners whose primary and/or most serious crime was a drug offense: 8% in 1980. 23% in 1998. Based on federal estimates of state and federal drug prisoners. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"The FBI has reported that almost one-third of people convicted of robbery and burglary, and more than one-quarter of people convicted of larceny, committed their crimes to get money for drugs. Moreover, 6.5 percent of the murders in the United States in 1990 occurred in narcotics-related circumstances" -- Rethinking America's wasteful war on illicit drugs. By Jerry V. Wilson (former chief of police for the District of Columbia). Jan. 18, 1994. Washington Post.
The Nov. 2, 1995 Chicago Tribune reported: "The latest Bureau of Justice Statistics [BJS] survey of U.S. prison inmates in 1991 found that 27 percent of robbers admitted they committed crimes to buy drugs; 30 percent of burglars said so, and 5 percent of convicted murderers did." -- See Table 3 in the BJS report Fact Sheet: Drug-Related Crime. September 1994, NCJ–149286.
"According to the 1991 joint survey of Federal and State prison inmates, an estimated 17 percent of State prisoners and 10 percent of Federal prisoners reported committing their offense to get money to buy drugs; of those incarcerated for robbery, 27 percent of State prisoners and 27 percent of Federal prisoners admitted committing their offense to get money to buy drugs (see table 3). In 1997, 19 percent of State prisoners and 16 percent of Federal inmates said that they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs. These numbers represent a slight increase from the 1991 figures." http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html#table3
"In 1988, just over half of the murders in the city [New York City] were 'drug-related.' But once the researchers examined the circumstances of the murders, they discovered that the clear majority, 74 percent, were results of the drug trade, not drug use (14 percent) or the need to get money for drugs (4 percent)." -- OPED: War Won't Solve the Drug Problem. July 15, 1999. Washington Post. By Rob Stewart, of the Drug Policy Foundation.
"The percentage of homicides thought to be drug-related reflects both the frequency of such crimes as well as how the relationship is specified. 'What proportion of homicides is drug-related?' This simple question is difficult to answer. The FBI's definition is specific but limited. Cities or police departments may have broader but inconsistent definitions. For offenses not as reliably reported or as thoroughly investigated as homicides, the question is even more difficult because complete information is not systematically available at the national level for any definition of 'drug-related.' "
See the chart below. http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/factsht/crime/index.html#whystatistics (this chart is no longer on that specific page).
Drug-related homicide rates as defined using differing criteria in four cities, 1990
Committed during commission of a narcotics felony
Dispute between dealers
Offender under the influence of drugs
Victim under the influence of drugs
Source: Data were obtained by the ONDCP Drug Policy Information Clearinghouse.
'*Parole violations and drugs. 16.1% is the percentage of parole violators returned to state prisons in 1997 for drug related violations; for failing drug tests, possession of drugs, failing to report for drug testing, failing to report for alcohol or drug treatment. Info is from Table 21 of this report:
Ronald Reagan, 1980 campaign speech: "Leading medical researchers are coming to the conclusion that marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in the United States, and we haven't begun to find out all of the ill effects, but they are permanent ill effects. The loss of memory for example."