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Drugs and Crime

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Discussion 10-1

Michael Schaefer

According to the text, 62.4% of inmates used drugs regularly before incarceration, and 35.6% were using drugs at the time of the offense. I found this interesting because I would have thought the percentages to be higher. According to the Drug War Facts website, inmates incarcerated for drug offenses had the second largest increase from 2000 to 2009, and make up the majority (over 50%) of inmate population in federal prison.

Number of sentenced prisoners in federal prison by most serious offense

Offense 2000 2008 2009 Share 2009 % Chg 2000-2009

TOTAL 131,739 182,333 187,886 100.0% +42.6%

Violent 13,740 15,483 14,773 7.9% +7.5%

Property 10,135 11,080 10,913 5.8% +7.7%

Drug 74,276 95,079 95,205 50.7% +28.2%

Public-order 32,325 59,298 65,678 35.0% +103.2%

Other/unspecified 1,263 1,394 1,317 0.7% +4.3%

According to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections - Offender Population Projections and System Capacity report dated January 2009: "In the 1990s the Wisconsin prison population increased dramatically and had tripled by the year 2000. Drug and alcohol offenders accounted for a significant growth in the incarcerated population. In fact, drug offenders accounted for more than twenty percent of the growth from 1996 to 2006, and drug and operating while intoxicated offenders were responsible for more than sixty percent of the growth from 2001 to 2006."

Drawing from personal experience from when I was a prison guard, I would add that the drug use and / or abuse do not stop at the prison gate. Drugs of all types and the issues / problems that go along with drug use and abuse continue throughout the prison system.

I am very sorry about your Aunt. Prescription drug abuse is a terrible reality in the United States. It does seem as though America has become a "pill for every ill" society. There is no doubt that an addict will go great lengths to obtain their drug of choice, but it seems to me that obtaining a prescription is far too easy. While there are many good doctors out there, the reality is there are some bad ones as well. This combined with a "system" that can be manipulated makes getting a prescription for serious hard addictive drugs simpler than it should be.



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