"The federal prison population has grown by 750 percent since 1980, resulting in rapidly increasing expenditures for incarceration and dangerous overcrowding. In response, Congress created the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections to examine trends in correctional growth and develop practical, data-driven policy responses" (p. 1). The biggest driver of this growth is the population of drug offenders doubling in the last 20 years. This increase is compounded by the length of their sentences. While the number of imprisoned drug offenders has been fairly constant, the population has increased due to these offenders serving longer statutory mandatory minimum penalties.
This Special Report presents "a description of drug offenders in federal prison, including criminal history, demographics, gun involvement in the offense, and sentence imposed. The report examines each characteristics by type of drug involved in the offense. It also examines demographic information for the entire federally sentenced population and discusses alternative methods for defining drug offenders. Data are from a linked file created with data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons and United States Sentencing Commission. Highlights: This study is based on 94,678 offenders in federal prison at fiscal yearend 2012 who were sentenced on a new U.S. district court commitment and whose most serious offense (as classified by the Federal Bureau of Prisons) was a drug offense; Almost all (99.5%) drug offenders in federal prison were serving sentences for drug trafficking; Cocaine (powder or crack) was the primary drug type for more than half (54%) of drug offenders in federal prison; Race of drug offenders varied greatly by drug type. Blacks were 88% of crack cocaine offenders, Hispanics or Latinos were 54% of powder cocaine offenders, and whites were 48% of methamphetamine offenders; [and] More than a third (35%) of drug offenders in federal prison at sentencing, had either no or minimal criminal history."
“The Principles report outlines ten operating guidelines that define highly-successful system-level responses to address the needs of drug involved individuals. And the needs are staggering – with estimates as high as 60 percent of arrestees in jail with positive drug tests and fragmented service networks in the highest need communities, the responsibility to treat and rehabilitate drug-involved defendants and offenders has fallen squarely on criminal justice systems. While some systems have had notable successes in meeting these challenges, others continue to struggle. Principles provides a roadmap for leaders and practitioners with guidance like how to identify how severe the substance use is among defendants and offenders, address the diagnosed drivers contributing to the substance abusing behavior, and how to determine the level of intervention based on severity of substance use and on risk to reoffend.” This publication contains sections about: the ten principles of an effective criminal justice response; risk, needs, and evidence-based responses; and moving from aspirational to operational.