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Inmates not violent

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U.S. National - AP

Study: Most Drug Inmates Not Violent
Fri Sep 20,12:21 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - Most drug offenders in state prisons are black males with no history of violence or high-level drug dealing, an interest group says.

The Sentencing Project, which advocates for alternatives to incarceration, says that just over half of these state inmates -- 58 percent, or 124,885 people -- are nonviolent offenders.

"They represent a pool of appropriate candidates for diversion to treatment programs or some other type of community-based sanctions," the authors wrote. "The 'war on drugs' has been overly punitive and costly and has diverted attention and resources from potentially more constructive approaches."

Based largely on the government's 1997 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities, issued every five years, the study found that four out of every five drug offenders in state prisons are minorities. This is more than three times the rate of minority drug use in society, according to the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.

Blacks constitute 56 percent of drug offender inmates, while Hispanics make up 23 percent of that group. Their respective proportions of all monthly drug users nationwide are 13 percent and 9 percent, the group said.

Meanwhile, three-quarters of all state drug inmates have no convictions for violence, the study said.

Todd Gaziano, who studies criminal justice as a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, criticized the study for relying on a survey that asks inmates to describe their own level of criminal activity.

And he said the Sentencing Project lumped many drug dealers together with those convicted of possession.

"Retail drug dealers may not be as culpable as international drug kingpins, but it is highly misleading to suggest that they are all merely low-level drug users who need nothing more than treatment and counseling," Gaziano said.

About 251,200 drug offenders reside in state prisons, the study says. Those inmates cost taxpayers about $5 billion every year.

Treatment versus incarceration for drug offenders is a decades-old debate mediated in some places by specially assigned drug courts that typically include drug treatment in their sentences for drug offenders.

While some advocate for alternatives to incarceration for minor drug offenders, others say the threat of incarceration has a deterrent effect.


On the Net:

The Sentencing Project:

1 in 99 americans in jail { January 2008 }
25percent of worlds prisoners
3 days in nyc jails { November 23 2002 }
Black man imprisoned 25 years freed by dna { April 23 2007 }
Black man innocent of murder freed after 27 years { April 29 2008 }
Black prison rate reach peak { April 7 2003 }
British police new supergun for rioters { October 9 2005 }
California highest percapita jail population outside china { November 18 2003 }
Correctional population hits record 7m { July 26 2004 }
Correctional services corporation builds texas detention center
Corrections 7m ap
Corrections 7m reuters
Crime rose 2001
Dna clears florida man of 1981 rape and robbery { January 14 2006 }
Dna exoneration { August 26 2002 }
Dna tests free man in prison 25 years
Drug laws dont reduce drug crime
Fbi method sent innocent hundreds to prison { November 18 2007 }
Federal prisons packed
Halliburton contracted to build immigration jails
Highest adult imprisonment world { August 18 2003 }
Inmates not violent
Innocent british prisoner charged with living expenses
La riots one year later { April 29 2002 }
Lawmakers seek to end business boom behind bars { February 23 2005 }
Man cleared by dna after 17 years
Microsoft cheap labor in prisons { March 19 2001 }
Millions behind bars
One in 37 done time
One of every 75 men in prison { May 27 2004 }
Overcrowded prisoners to take sleep shifts
Poor lawyers in death sentence { June 26 2003 }
Prison labor grows { March 19 2000 }
Prisoner claims legal injection cruel and unusual { January 23 2006 }
Prisoners grew by 900 inmates a week during 2004 { June 30 2003 }
Prisons add 1000 inmates each week { May 21 2006 }
Prisons colleges
Racial segregation continues in california prisons
Record 7 million adults in prison system { October 2006 }
Record high
Sentencing in doubt after supreme court decision { June 25 2004 }
Supreme court gives sentencing power to juries { June 26 2004 }
Supreme court transforms sentence guidelines { January 13 2005 }
Uk prison population hits new record
Worlds highest incarceration rate { August 18 2003 }
Young inmates caged drugged state study finds { January 28 2004 }

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