Approximately 1 out of every 100 people in the United States is incarcerated, which is higher than the once ration rate of anywhere in the world. The truth is that many of these prisoners and their crimes pertain to drug use. We all know that nonviolent drug users make up a significant portion of our prison population, but how does drug use relate to other types of crime? And what effect does it have on our criminal justice system and its method of reducing crime in our communities? This series will explore some of the facts and statistics of how prevalent drugs are in the entire world of crime, and how these numbers have adapted over the years.
Important to separate specific drug crimes
The first thing that we must get out of the way is that our examination must make a fine distinction between crimes that only pertain to drug use, and other types of criminal activity. There is an obvious link between illicit substances and crime because the abuse of many drugs is illegal because of this, any examination that will give you an honest story of drugs and their effect on crime must look past this fact to see the other links that are prevalent between the world of crime and the world of addiction. The majority of what we will examine in this series will disregard laws and crimes that pertain to the use of drugs, only.
Drug habits come at a high cost
One of the big factors behind drug-driven crimes is a financial one. Being able to support a drug habit is not a mild cost. Many addicts spend hundreds of dollars a day to fuel their addiction. Heroin alone costs $225 per gram, and many addicts can use up to multiple grams a day. Although addiction affects nearly every demographic and economic class, lower income substance abusers will not be able to afford these monumental costs. Because of this, a substantial amount of armed robberies were committed for the purpose of financially supporting a drug habit. A report from 2004 noted that 18% of inmates across the country were serving time for committing crimes to obtain money for substance abuse.
Alcohol is involved in most violent crimes
One very notable statistic is that alcohol is incredibly prevalent in most violent crimes. Indeed, recent studies have shown that 60% of homicides were committed by a suspect who was under the influence of alcohol, and nearly half of all fights that were reported to law enforcement, as well. In the United States, nearly ¼ of all prisoners in the United States are alcohol dependent or suffer from alcoholism, and ⅓ of all offenders commonly binge drank. It is important to note, however, that these studies do not necessarily prove causation, but the link is undeniable.
This article is continued in part 2.