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Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us
offenses includes possession of controlled substances, prescription violations, possession of drug paraphernalia, and other drug law violations. The other types of felonies detailed in these data systems include a variety of violent offenses, property offenses, and certain serious public order offenses (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999a, 1999b).
BJS uses all of these data collections to develop descriptive statistics and trend data across a number of important domains related to illegal drugs, for example the relationship of drug use to criminal offending, the use of treatment services by offenders, and trends in drug enforcement. The following examples provide a small indication of the voluminous statistical information that is available from these series on these subjects. The figures cited are the latest available.
Drug Use and Crime
In 1997 the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities found that 83 percent of all state inmates reported past drug use, a figure more than double the reported lifetime prevalence in the general population for 1997 (Mumola, 1999; Research Triangle Institute, 1997). However, only one-third of state inmates and one-fifth of federal prisoners admitted using drugs while actually committing their offense. Among state inmates, a substantially higher proportion of violent and property offenders reported using alcohol at the time of their offense than reported illegal drug use. The reverse was true for drug offenders, however. Moreover, only 19 percent of state prisoners reported that they committed their offense to get money for drugs in 1997 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999e). Only 16 percent of federal prisoners reported committing their offense to get money for drugs in 1997.
According to the 1997 Survey of State and Federal Prisoners, as many as one-third of state and one-quarter of federal prisoners reported past participation in alcohol or drug abuse treatment (defined as residential treatment, professional counseling, detoxification, or use of a maintenance drug), and about one in eight state prisoners had participated in these types of treatment regimes while in prison. Another two-fifths of state prisoners had participated in some type of self-help program in the past and one-quarter had taken part in such programs since their admission to prison (Mumola, 1999). Among probationers, more than two in five were required as a condition of probation to enroll in some form of substance abuse treatment, and nearly one-third were subject to mandatory drug testing (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997c).