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Drugs the Most Numerous Arrest Type in '08, Though Down Slightly from '07, FBI Reports

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The FBI has released its preliminary 2008 drug arrest numbers, collected as part of the Uniform Crime Reports program. The report verifies that the nation's police forces -- federal, state, county and local -- continued to pour vast amounts of limited police resources into the ineffective anti-drug effort. Arrested for drug abuse violations (as they call them) numbered 1,702,537 in 2008, out of a total of 14,005,615 non-traffic arrests -- 12.2%, more than one out of eight. This is a slight drop from 2007, when there were about 1.8 million, according to UCR, about 13%. 82% of drug arrests were for possession, and more than half of those were for marijuana. That slight percentage drop in the number of drug arrests means nearly 100,000 people who were spared the drug war shaft, so this is a good thing. The fact that it would drop at all provides some encouragement -- hopefully warranted, though only time will tell about that. Whichever way you look at it, it is a vast number of arrests affecting a vast number of people, and a whole lot of police time that could have been spent more usefully doing almost anything else. The reports points out that drug arrests were more numerous than any other category of offense that UCR tracks. Perhaps because of that, the front page of the arrest section has a useful table categorizing what the arrest types were, for which drugs, and where they took place. I've copied the table below; but you can see the original, and then explore UCR for '08 and many years past, at Expect a more detailed analysis from Phil, if not in this week's Chronicle then in the next one. Drug abuse violations United States total Northeast Midwest South West Total1 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 Sale/
Total 17.7 22.1 19.3 16.4 16.1 Heroin or cocaine and their derivatives 7.7 13.4 5.6 7.5 5.8 Marijuana 5.5 5.9 8.2 4.3 5.4 Synthetic or manufactured drugs 1.5 1.2 1.2 2.6 0.6 Other dangerous nonnarcotic drugs 3.0 1.5 4.4 1.9 4.3 Possession: Total 82.3 77.9 80.7 83.6 83.9 Heroin or cocaine and their derivatives 20.1 20.7 12.5 21.0 22.3 Marijuana 44.3 46.5 51.9 50.2 33.2 Synthetic or manufactured drugs 3.3 2.7 3.8 4.2 2.5 Other dangerous nonnarcotic drugs 14.6 8.0 12.5 8.2 25.9  
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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