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Drug war and mass incarceration, by the numbers

More than half of federal prisoners have been incarcerated for drug crimes


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Natasha Lennard
April 8, 2013 9:19PM (UTC)

According to policy reform advocates the Drug Policy Alliance, combining state and local spending on everything from drug-related arrests to prison, the total cost of the drug war in this country adds up to at least $51 billion per year. "Over four decades, the group says, American taxpayers have dished out $1 trillion on the drug war," HuffPo reported Monday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. boasts the highest incarceration rates in the entire world -- 2.2 million prisoners. Staggeringly more than half of all federal inmates are incarcerated for drug crimes. Via HuffPo:

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Despite more relaxed attitudes among the public at large toward non-violent offenses like marijuana use, the number of people in federal prison for drug offenses spiked from 74,276 in 2000 to 97,472 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The punishment falls disproportionately on people of color. Blacks make up 50 percent of the state and local prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes. Black kids are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than white ones -- even though white kids are more likely to abuse drugs.

More details and troubling numbers in the below video:

The Drug War & Mass Incarceration By The Numbers


Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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