California Reports Record Percentage of Drug Prisoners: One in Eight Imprisoned for Simple Possession of Drugs 10/22/99

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(courtesy Dale Gieringer, Drug Policy Forum of California)

SACRAMENTO: The number of drug prisoners has mounted to new all-time highs in California, according to the latest statistics from the Department of Corrections. As of June 1999, the state prison system held 45,874 drug offenders, a record 28.3% of the prison population. At the same time, a record 12.2% of prisoners -- 19,743 in all -- were being held for simple possession (not sales) of illegal drugs.

Included are 1,903 marijuana prisoners (principally for sales and cultivation, since possession is a misdemeanor) -- up 12% since the passage of California's medical marijuana initiative, Prop. 215, and nearly twenty times the level of twenty years ago.

Not included in these figures are drug prisoners held in county jails and federal prisons.

Altogether, the number of drug prisoners in California has exploded over fivefold since 1986 while their proportion in the prison population has doubled; yet illegal drug usage has remained more or less constant over the same period.

Data for DPFCA's analysis comes from the California Department of Corrections annual publication, "Characteristics of Population in California State Prisons by Institution."

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Issue #113, 10/22/99 California Reports Record Percentage of Drug Prisoners: One in Eight Imprisoned for Simple Possession of Drugs | Marijuana Arrests Stay at Record-High Level: FBI Reports 682,885 Marijuana Arrests in 1998, 88% for Possession | NORML Foundation Releases Report Detailing European Marijuana Policies | Maine Sheriff Endorses Medical Marijuana | Just Say Know: New Directions in Drug Education -- Conference in SF Next Week | Safety First: Reality-Based Drug Education Booklet Published by The Lindesmith Center | Newsbriefs | San Francisco Beats New York at Crime Reduction | Newsbriefs | Publication Suspended of New Book Claiming George W. Bush Arrested for Cocaine in '72 | Elizabeth Dole Drops Out of Race | Editorial: Whose life is it anyway?
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