Wednesday, August 12, 2015

White House supports comprehensive criminal justice reform

According to a White House press release, the Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy supports comprehensive change within the criminal justice system.

The White House explains its reasoning as follows:  Over the past twenty-five years, the U.S. prison and jail population reached an all-time high and the number of people on probation and parole doubled.  In 2009, nearly seven million individuals were under supervision of the state and Federal criminal justice systems.  Nearly two million of these individuals were incarcerated for their crimes, while the remaining five million were on probation or parole being supervised in the community. As a result, the United States’ criminal justice system faces significant challenges.

While both the Federal and state correctional systems must address this issue, states generally bear the costs related to this population, and correctional spending has dramatically kept pace with the rising corrections population.  Between 1988 and 2009, state corrections spending increased from $12 billion to $52 billion per year. Despite these significant expenditures, far too many offenders return to drug use and crime upon their reentry into society.

In 2009, parole and other conditional release violators accounted for 33.1 percent of all prison admissions, 35.2 percent of state admissions, and 8.2 percent of Federal admissions.  Twenty-four percent of parolees ending supervision in 2009 (approximately 132,000 of 553,000) returned to prison as a result of violating their terms of supervision, and 9 percent of adults ending parole returned to prison as a result of a new conviction.

Among state prisoners who were dependent on or abusing drugs, 53 percent had at least three prior sentences to probation or incarceration, compared to 32 percent of other inmates. Drug dependent or abusing state prisoners (48 percent) were also more likely than other inmates (37 percent) to have been on probation or parole supervision at the time of their arrest.  The 2010 ADAM II Survey found that anywhere from 52 percent (Washington, DC) to 80 percent or more (Chicago and Sacramento) of male arrestees tested positive for the presence of at least one drug at the time of their arrest.

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