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Drug Policy

Between 1980 and 2006, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in state and federal prisons increased 1,412 percent from 23,900 to 361,276. There is little evidence to suggest that current harsh sentences or incarceration affect drug sales, deter drug use, or improve public safety; meanwhile, what we know works - community-based treatment and rehabilitation services - remain substantially underfunded.

Here, you can find JPI reports, briefs and factsheets on drug policies across the country and common-sense solutions to invest in people and communities and ensure public safety.

Billion Dollar Divide: Virginia's Sentencing, Corrections and Criminal Justice Challenge
Billion Dollar Divide points to racial disparities, skewed fiscal priorities, and missed opportunities for improvements through proposed legislation, and calls for reforms to the commonwealth…
Virginia's Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair
Virginia's Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair points to reforms that, if implemented, would result in relief for Virginians directly impacted by the justice system and taxpayers alike.
Incarceration Generation Timeline
The Justice Policy Institute's 2013 published "Incarceration Generation," a coffee-table book of essays detailing the rise of mass incarceration over the last 40 years, features this pull-out…
Addicted to Courts: How a Growing Dependence on Drug Courts Impacts People and Communities
Report investigating the phenomenon of drug courts and providing alternatives to better address substance abuse issues.
Judging Maryland: Baltimore Judges on Effective Solutions to Working with Substance Abusers in the Criminal Justice System
In 2004, Maryland lawmakers enacted a set of reforms designed to expand options available to judges, prosecutors, and the state’s parole commission for placing addicted defendants in…
Substance Abuse Treatment and Public Safety
Community-based substance abuse treatment reduces crime rates and helps states reduce corrections costs. The sooner substance abuse is treated, the bigger the cost savings and increases in public…
Maryland's Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentencing Laws: Their Impact on Incarceration, State Resources and Communities of Color
Mandatory minimum drug sentences fall hardest on communities of color, with nearly nine out of ten people sent to prison for a mandatory minimum drug sentence in Maryland being African American.
Progress and Challenges: An Analysis of Drug Treatment and Imprisonment in Maryland from 2000 to 2005
In 2004, Maryland lawmakers enacted a set of reforms designed to expand the options available to judges, prosecutors, and the state’s parole commission for placing addicted defendants in…
Proposition 36: Five Years Later
While the United States still carries the dubious distinction of leading the world in imprisonment, recent changes to sentencing in a number of states may signal that the country is turning the…
Efficacy and Impact: The Criminal Justice Response to Marijuana Policy in the United States
There is no clear relationship between drug arrests and drug use, and the impact of increased arrests, convictions and incarcerations of people for marijuana offenses has significant and measurable…
Treatment or Incarceration: National and State Findings on the Efficacy and Cost Savings of Drug Treatment Versus Imprisonment
This policy brief will survey research that shows that, on the whole, providing drug offenders with treatment is a more cost-effective way of dealing with substance addicted drug and nonviolent…
Treatment or Incarceration: National and State Findings on the Efficacy and Cost Savings of Drug Treatment Versus Imprisonment
This policy brief will survey research that shows that, on the whole, providing drug offenders with treatment is a more cost-effective way of dealing with substance addicted drug and nonviolent…
Cost and Benefits? The Impact of Drug Imprisonment in New Jersey
Of the country’s 2 million prisoners,450,000 are incarcerated in prison or jail for drug offenses—more people than the European Union, an entity with a 100 million more people, has in…
Drug Policies in the State of Michigan—Economic Effects
At a cost of approximately $28,000 per person, the State of Michigan currently spends in excess of $160 million dollars each year to incarcerate drug offenders.
Poor Prescription: The Cost of Imprisoning Drug Offenders in the United States
Americans will spend nearly $40 billion on prisons and jails in the year 2000. Almost $24 billion of that will go to incarcerate 1.2 million nonviolent offenders.