Drug War

Drug Offenders in California's Overcrowded Prisons


In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision requiring California to reduce its prison population by about 30,000, Dale Gieringer of California NORML notes that the state was incarcerating nearly 25,000 drug offenders at the end of last year:

A total of 8,587 inmates were being held specifically for simple possession of a controlled substance. Another 1,401 were being held for marijuana-specific felonies. The remaining balance were being held for sales, manufacture or distribution of other controlled substances.

For those who do not equate selling people stuff they want with raping or murdering them, these numbers provide strong grounds for doubting the predictions by Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito that the early release of California prisoners will produce a public safety disaster.

The data Gieringer cites are here. Ending the war on drugs is a theme that comes up repeatedly in Reason's July package of articles about America's criminal justice system, which will be on a newsstand near you soon (or in your mailbox, if you are lucky enough to be a subscriber).