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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

A 25-Year Quagmire: The War on Drugs and Its Impact on American Society (The Sentencing Project)

  • Organization: Sentencing Project
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
  • Submitted: Wednesday, October 17, 2007
  • Attachment(s): LINK
The report documents how the drug war has produced a record expansion of prison and jail systems and highlights additional indicators of the war's impact on the criminal justice system and communities, including:
  • Drug arrests have more than tripled since 1980 to a record 1.8 million by 2005;
  • Four of five (81.7%) drug arrests were for possession offenses, and 42.6% were for marijuana charges in 2005;
  • Nearly six in 10 persons in state prison for a drug offense have no history of violence or high-level drug selling;
  • Only 14% of persons in 2004 who report using drugs in the month before their arrest had participated in a treatment program, a decline of more than half from participation rates in 1991;
  • A shortage of treatment options in many low-income neighborhoods contributes to drug abuse being treated primarily as a criminal justice problem, rather than a social problem.
The report also provides policy recommendations that can help effectively reinvest government resources in community safety by encouraging comprehensive drug treatment and prevention strategies to address drug addiction.

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