America’s prisons and jails are rife with addiction and substance use. CASAColumbia’s research shows that the increase in America’s prison population is due overwhelmingly to criminal activity linked to alcohol, other substance use and addiction. Between 1996 and 2006, as the U.S. population rose by 12 percent, the number of adults incarcerated rose by 33 percent to 2.3 million inmates, and the number of inmates who were substance-involved shot up by 43 percent to 1.9 million inmates. This report is an exhaustive analysis of the extent to which alcohol and other drugs are implicated in the crimes and incarceration of America’s prison population.
Of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nation’s prisons and jails, 85% were substance-involved. Further, 1.5 million met the DSM-IV medical criteria for addiction. Another 458,000 did not met the strict DSM-IV criteria, but had histories of substance use issues and were under the influence of alcohol or another substance at the time of their crime, committed their offense to get money to buy drugs, were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation, or shared some combination of these characteristics. Further, in 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in:
Additional findings include the following:
For the government:
This study analyzed data on inmates from 11 federal sources, reviewed more than 650 articles and other publications, examined best practices in prevention and treatment for substance-involved offenders, reviewed accreditation standards and analyzed costs and benefits of treatment.