Sunday, March 7, 2010

Substance Abuse and Prisoners

A recent study by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reveals that 85% of the U.S. prison population has significant drug and alcohol issues. Of the 2.3 million inmates in our nation's prisons and jail, 1.5 meet the medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction. Another 458,000 had histories of substance abuse (i.e. were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime, committed their offense to get money to buy drugs, or were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation). According to the report, alcohol and other drugs were factors in all crimes in the year 2006.

The study also reported that only 11 percent of all inmates with substance abuse and addiction disorders receive any treatment during their incarceration. The findings indicated that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, and only 10 percent of them remained substance and crime free and employed, the nation would break even in one year.

For each inmate who remains sober, employed and crime free, the U.S. would get an economic benefit of $90,953.

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