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Probation & Parole - Probation - Drug Offenders

More than 95,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug-related offenses—up from fewer than 5,000 in 1980. 

Effectively managing drug-involved offenders is an essential step to reduce crime and drug abuse. 

By targeting high-risk offenders, mainly those with long-term drug addictions, giving them access to the services they need whether that be drug treatment, mental health treatment or other life skills — and then having continuous contact with them to help them stay sober — the program hopes to keep repeat offenders out of jail once and for all.


More innovative programs now use a UDT (urine drug testing) paradigm with more frequent, random testing providing rapid results and certain, swift consequences and addiction treatment when warranted or requested. Studies have shown these new programs—the foundation of which is frequent, random UDTs—to significantly reduce drug use, criminal recidivism, and incarceration.

Substance use is common among justice-involved individuals. Prior research suggests that substance use can be associated with poorer outcomes among individuals under supervision in the community. The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing conducted a study to determine the extent to which this is true for individuals in Pennsylvania drawing on: I. Analysis of resentencing events reported to the Commission II. Interviews with key stakeholders in two jurisdictions III. Analysis of probation case files in two jurisdictions The main analyses in this report are based on data for individuals sentenced to a term of probation or county intermediate punishment with at least one restrictive intermediate punishment (RIP) element from 47 counties that reported sufficient information on resentencing events from January 1, 2016 to May 8, 2019.

"Almost half of the 195,809 federally sentenced individuals in the Bureau of Prisons are serving time for drug trafficking offenses, but little is known about their criminal histories or the nature of their offenses. This brief examines both, finding that many people in federal prison for drug crimes have minimal or no criminal histories, and most were not convicted of violent or leading roles. Nonetheless, many serve long prison sentences due to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Lasting reductions in the size of the federal prison population will require big cuts in length of stay for drug offenses" (home page). Sections of this brief cover: many drug offenders housed in federal prisons have little to no criminal histories; few are convicted of leading trafficking organizations or responsible for violent acts during drug trafficking crimes; long federal sentences are driven by mandatory minimums; and continued federal prison population reductions require shorter drug sentences.

Who Gets Time for Federal Drug Offenses? Data Trends and Opportunities for Reform cover
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