Drug Addicts and Prison

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Drug Addicts and Prison

Drug addiction affects over 23.5 million Americans, and in many cases, their addictions involve the acquisition and use of illegal substances. Drug use can and often does result in jail time, and many drug users find themselves turning to illegal activities including theft, burglary, and forgery to fund their drug habit.

Even acquiring prescription drugs without a prescription can result in a prison sentence, although the sentence will depend on how the drugs are acquired, the drugs themselves, and the jury or judge meting out the sentence.

Drug Addicts in Prison

Statistics show that of the nearly 2.3 million prisoners in the United States, nearly 1.5 million meet medical standards for addiction to drugs and other substances. In one study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, correlations were made between drugs and alcohol and violent crimes, revealing that prisoners are more likely to be addicted to drugs, but drug addicts are more likely to commit felonies that send them to prison.

In another CASA study, 25% of inmates in local, federal, and state prisons are there because of illicit drug use, with crimes including possession, use, trafficking, and disorderly conduct. The same study went on to say that a total of 43% of all inmates are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their arrest.

What Happens to Drug Addicts in Prison

Many drug addicts eventually serve prison time for crimes regarding possession, or violent crimes such as theft or burglary. Many prisons offer 90 day drug rehabilitation programs through the Federal Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), which helps some prisoners to get clean, before returning them to general population. Those with shorter sentences may also qualify for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which is a 12 week non-residential treatment program.

In some cases, addicts may be sent to state or federal rehabilitation, which involves 6-18 month stints in a prison and then transfer to a halfway house through a community treatment center. Here, patients are monitored, must attend mandatory AA meetings, and have weekly or bi-weekly visits with a parole officer to ensure continued abstinence.

Unfortunately, only an estimated 1 in 4 drug addicts receive the treatment they need. Instead, they are typically sent to general population and must go through withdrawal while in jail waiting for their sentencing. This form of ‘cold turkey’ withdrawal is unhealthy but studies show that it is sometimes used by the police as a means of interrogation. In prison, drug addicts also sometimes have access to a black market of drugs and alcohol, which allows them to continue their addiction.

Sentencing for Drug Possession

Drug possession is a crime in most states, and while the sentence can and will greatly vary depending on the state and the jury or judge, the following include the average sentencing times for any possession.

Simple Possession (21 U.S.C. 844)24

  • First Offense – Up to 1 year and not less than $1,000
  • Second Offense – 15 days to 2 years and not less than $2,500
  • Third Offense – 90 days to 3 years and not less than $5,000

In most cases, the possession of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 drug will result in the following felony charges. However, this can vary depending on the jury and the state.

  • 500 mg. – Felony D Class – 1-7 years
  • 1/8th Oz. – Felony C Class – 1-15 years
  • ½ Oz. – Felony B Class – 1-25 Years
  • 2 Oz – Felony A-II Class – 3-life
  • 4 oz. – Felony A-1 Class – 15-life

In some states, such as Kentucky, sentencing and fines are much higher. The eventual sentencing will also depend on the determined degree of the possession, but this greatly depends on the state. For example, Minnesota will charge a third degree felony for anything over 25 grams of heroin, while other states are much more lenient.

While many prisons are overwhelmed with drug addicts, few addicts get the help they need while incarcerated. Despite this, organizations like CASA are fighting to ensure that drug addicts are rehabilitated instead of incarcerated, as they believe it would not only allow drug addicts to go back to their lives, but would also save the government and therefore taxpayers some $90,000 per year.

While rehab is often not provided through prison services, you can also request rehabilitation services in prison after receiving a sentence. Drug addiction is harmful to addicts and everyone around them, and seeking out help is the best way to get your life back. If you or a loved one is addicted to drugs, it is important to ask for help.

The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California. To talk to us about treatment options at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, contact us today.

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