How Drug Abuse Impacts Prison Populations in the United States

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Inmates Involved in Drug Abuse are on the Rise Drug abuse and addiction have, for all intents and purposes, changed the landscape of the prison populations in the United States. We consume two-thirds of the world’s illegal drugs and embody twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. In the decade between 1996 and 2006, the population in the U.S. increased by 12.5 percent. While the percentage of incarcerated adults rose by 32.8 percent during that period, the percentage of inmates involved in drugs increased even more quickly, by 43.2 percent (CASAColumbia, 2010). One factor contributing to the continuous growth of substance abusers in the prison population is drug misuse and addiction. The majority of inmates incarcerated have used illegal drugs on a regular basis (at least once a week for a period of one month) and have been incarcerated for selling or possessing drugs; driving under the influence of alcohol; committed crimes under the influence of drugs or alcohol; committed their crimes to get money for drugs; have a history of substance abuse; or share a combination of these characteristics (CASAColumbia, 1998). Another factor is the war on drugs and mandatory minimum sentences. In an attempt to reduce drug abuse and drug dealing, the U.S. has pursued punitive drug control policies to threaten arrest and incarceration. Mandatory minimums at the state and federal levels lead to individuals being sent to prison for possession of relatively small amounts of illegal substances (Taylor, Hallam & Allen, 2009). Drug and alcohol are also implicated in a variety of crimes, not just drug and alcohol violations. Substance abuse and addiction awful causes linked to assaults, rapes, and homicides. Individuals are incarcerated for robbery and burglary to maintain drug habits, and thousands more are locked up for breaking the law by selling,
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