Tuesday, August 22, 2006
From ChicagoTribune.com: After two decades of steadily toughening laws, Illinois now puts more people in prison for drug crimes than any state except California, according to a study released Tuesday by Roosevelt University.
The report also found that more people are being incarcerated for possessing narcotics than for selling them and that the state's prisons hold about five black inmates convicted of drug offenses for every white inmate--one of the largest racial disparities in the country.
The raw numbers, experts say, underscore the scope of the issue. In 1983, 456 people convicted of possessing or selling drugs were behind bars in Illinois, making up 5 percent of the total prison population. By 2002--the latest year for which detailed federal statistics on imprisonment are available--the number had soared to 12,985, or 38 percent of all inmates.
"Just locking folks up is not reducing our drug problems, but it's sure costing us a lot of money," she said. "I think we need to take a different tactic and start funding treatment at higher levels so people don't have to go to prison. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]