Study: Drugs Affect 7 of 10 Jail Inmates

Study: Drugs Affect 7 of 10 Jail Inmates
Posted by FoM on May 11, 2000 at 09:32:14 PT
Increases Chances of Being Incarcerated Again 
Seventy percent of inmates in local jails were serving time for drug offenses or were regular drug users before incarceration, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reported today. Ten percent of inmates flunked drug tests administered while in jail, the study also found. 
Jails, as opposed to prisons, are usually run by city or county authorities and hold defendants awaiting trial or people serving sentences of under a year. Jail inmates revealed a deep involvement in illegal drugs, according to the study, which collected data from jails in 1998 and relied on an earlier survey of 6,100 inmates to determine levels of drug use. Sixty-four percent of all jail inmates used drugs at least once a week for at least a month. Twenty-six percent had been jailed at least once before for drug charges. Seventeen percent used drugs intravenously. Related Stories: Gore: Give Prisoners Drug Tests Teacher Dealt Pot to Inmates, Cops Say Tested: To help control drug use, seven out of 10 jails had policies to test their inmates and employees for drugs, the study found. About half of all jails test employees for drugs, the report found. In McKinney, Texas, the Collin County Sheriff's Office conducts pre-employment drug tests for new jail personnel. "We've had several who have failed," said Lt. John Norton, a spokesman for the Collin County Sheriff's Office. "They're not hired, and they're not considered in the future." But just because jails had policies for random drug tests doesn't mean they're actually testing inmates, one former jailer said. Analysis is Costly: "That's too expensive," said Charles "Bud" Meeks, executive director of the National Sheriffs Association and the former sheriff of Allen County in Ft. Wayne, Ind. "If you have drug testing, that means you have to take the sample, you've got to have it analyzed, there has to be continuity and control of it, and each one of those drug tests would cost $10 or $15." The Arapahoe County, Colo., Sheriff's Department conducts drug tests on inmates assigned to the jail's work-release or home-detention programs but sees no benefit from testing other inmates. "What would be the purpose?" asked Capt. Tom Bay, the commander of Arapahoe County Sheriff's Detention Division. "Someone comes in here, and they have THC [marijuana] in their system; what would we do with that information?" Inmates who test positive face a variety of punishments, the study said. Seventy percent of jails said they revoked inmate privileges, while 52 percent said they revoked any time off for good behavior. But only 8 percent of jails forced inmates to take part in drug-treatment sessions. Programs Aim to Prevent Recidivism: But even jails that don't test their inmates for drugs realize the cost of imprisoning drug addicts. To prevent inmates from committing new crimes after their release, about three-quarters of jails offer some form of substance-abuse treatment or programs for their inmates, the study found. "There's a large percentage of people in prison and jail who have histories of drug abuse, and if they don't get treatment, either treatment in jail or when they get out, the likelihood is that they will go back," said Michael Prendergast, a researcher at the UCLA Drug Abuse Research Center. "Certainly, as the number of drug users in prisons and jails increase, particular those who have more severe drug-use histories, the greater the need for treatment." By Hans H. ChenWeb Posted: May 10, 2000 Washington ( Hans H. Chen is an staff writer E-Mail: hans.chen apbnews.comRelated Articles:With Jails Packed, More States Try Drug Treatment Treatment for Imprisoned Addicts Backed Chief Seeks More Treatment, Less Jail
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