Justice Department Reports Seventy Percent of Jail Inmates Drug-Involved 5/12/00

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A report issued this week by the Department of Justice indicates that 70% of inmates held in the nation's jails are either serving time for drug offenses or were regular users prior to incarceration. Jails, as opposed to prisons, are locally run institutions used primarily to house people waiting for trial and those serving sentences of less than one year.

The study, which analyzed data from 1998, also found that 26% of inmates had been jailed at least once before for a drug offense, and that 17% of inmates were intravenous drug users.

Seven out of ten jails have policies in place to test employees and inmates, but inmate testing, at $10-15 per, is often seen as "too expensive" to carry out. About 75% of jails offer some form of substance-abuse treatment or program for inmates.

In a story regarding Vice President Gore's call for drug testing and treating inmates, covered last week by The Week Online, Dr. Peter Beilenson of the Baltimore Health Department told the Week Online that while treatment availability is important in jails and prisons, non-coerced treatment is an even more glaring need.

"There needs to be a significant increase in funding for treatment on request. We don't provide enough of that," said Dr. Beilenson. "I don't believe that we should have to arrest people in order to provide them with treatment."

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Issue #137, 5/12/00 New York Assembly Legalizes Over the Counter Sale of Syringes | Woman Whose Daughter Turned Her In Gets One Year | Justice Department Reports Seventy Percent of Jail Inmates Drug-Involved | Mexico City Police Commissioner Calls for Dutch Approach to Drug Policy | Q and A on Dutch Drug Policy | Report Calls on the UN Biodiversity Convention to Stop Dangerous US Fungus Experiments | Student Senate Overturns Presidential Veto of HEA Reform Resolution | Green Harvest Eradication Program Denied Funding in Hawaii | No Helicopters to Colombia: Act Now Before May 16th Vote | Stop "Smoke a Joint, Lose Your License" -- Action Update | RAISE YOUR VOICE: Action Needed Against Higher Education Act Drug Provision | MORE AlertS: New York and Washington State | EVENTS: District of Columbia, Toronto, New York, San Francisco | Editorial: Family Devalued

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