Report: Blacks 10 Times More Likely to Be Jailed for Drug-Related Offenses Than Whites

Justice Policy Institute encouraging lawmakers to focus more on drug treatment and less on punitive measures

The Justice Policy Institute is encouraging lawmakers to focus more on drug treatment and less on punitive measures, like jailing users, after the results of a new JPI study revealed that although whites and blacks use drugs at about the same rate, blacks are 10 times more likely to be jailed for drug-related offenses than are whites. "What you keep seeing is this towering drug [jail] admission rate for African Americans and a very small rate for whites," JPI Executive Director Jason Ziedenberg told Reuters. "In many cases, the admission rate for whites is smaller than the [percentage of whites in the] whole population." Indeed, according to the JPI report, although blacks make up about 13% of the population, they account for a whopping 53% of all drug offenders sentenced to do time in state prisons in 2003; in all, the disparity in sentencing for drug offenses exists in 97% of the nation's large population counties, JPI reports – including in Travis, where blacks are 31 times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses than are whites. In Dallas and Houston, blacks are nine and 19 times more likely to be jailed than are whites, respectively. See the entire report at www.justicepolicy.org.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Reefer Madness, Justice Policy Institute, Jason Ziedenberg

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