Drugs and crime are linked.

Author:Weedon, Joey R.
Position:Legislative Issues

While the majority of crime cannot be attributed to a single factor (most crime is attributed to a combination of socioeconomic and personal factors), drug use and crime are intimately related in the public's mind and the connection between them has been well documented. While the true relationship between them is difficult to accurately surmise, there is ample evidence to suggest that they are intrinsically linked. The impact of this linkage is felt strongly within the nation's correctional systems.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than half of all state prison inmates were under the influence at the time of their current offense. In addition, it is widely reported that 70 percent to 85 percent of state inmates have histories of serious alcohol or substance abuse problems. Overall, three in four state and four in five federal inmates may be characterized as alcohol- or drug-involved offenders. Among juvenile populations, the numbers are equally alarming. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 60 percent of detained boys and 46 percent of detained girls tested positive for drug use at the time of their arrest.

The criminal justice system offers a unique opportunity to refer offenders with histories of substance abuse problems to treatment. It has the ability to conduct assessments after arrest and to enforce the requirements of treatment programs throughout an offender's periods of supervision.

Despite the opportunities that the criminal justice system provides for treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that only 13 percent of inmates who have substance abuse problems serious enough to warrant treatment actually receive it while incarcerated. Clearly...

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