Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Drug offenders have been the fastest growing segment of the U.S. prison population since the mid-1980s. As a result of the “war on drugs,” which focused local enforcement on street dealing and increased sentences for drug crimes, drug offenders now make up a significant proportion of inmates in most state prisons and in the federal corrections systems. The growth in numbers of people serving sentences for drug offenses has disproportionately penalized ethnic minorities, especially young back men. The decision to treat drugs as a law-and-order issue rather than one of public health has also created significant obstacles to effective treatment provisions for drug users. Crime is one of the attendant problems of drug abuse. According to one estimate, a male drug user may commit 80 to 100 serious property offenses per year to pay for his drugs. A number of ethnographic and longitudinal studies of drug-using criminals also show that ...