Wednesday, March 07, 2007

$9 billion wasted

An analysis of data from the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) indicates that it is costing American taxpayers about $1 billion annually to incarcerate people for marijuana offenses, AlterNet reported Feb. 10.

DOJ's Bureau of Justice Statistics said in a new report ("Drug Use and Dependence, State and Federal Prisoners, 2004") that 12.7 percent of state inmates and 12.4 percent of federal inmates locked up for drug crimes are marijuana offenders, amounting to about 33,655 state inmates and 10,785 federal inmates. When correlated with DOJ prison spending data, the totals show that the price tag for incarcerating marijuana offenders tops $1 billion annually.

The report said that the non-prison costs of marijuana prosecution in the U.S. amounts to another $8 billion. The FBI recently reported that 786,545 people were arrested on marijuana charges in 2005; about 88 percent were charged only with possession. The FBI figures were an all-time high even though reports say that marijuana consumption in the U.S. is declining.



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