Study Reveals No Relationship Between Prison Terms For Drug Offenses And Rates Of Drug Use, Arrests, Or Overdose Deaths

The PEW Charitable Trusts issued a brief, earlier this month,  reporting on the relationship between prison terms and the reduction in rates of drug use, arrests, and overdose deaths.

The analysis found no statistically significant relationship between drug imprisonment rates and three indicators of state drug problems: drug use, drug overdose deaths, and drug arrests. “In other words, higher rates of drug imprisonment did not translate into lower rates of drug use, arrests, or overdose deaths.” The PEW study also revealed that in states that had revised their drug penalties, prison populations had been reduced without an increase in crime rates.

Additionally, in South Carolina, after the state expanded probation and parole opportunities for people convicted of drug offenses, the prison population decreased by 14 percent, a larger proportion of the state’s inmates were convicted of violent offenses, and the violent crime rate dropped by 16 percent between 2010 and 2015.

The brief concluded that research revealed that “some strategies for reducing drug use and crime are more effective than others and that imprisonment ranks near the bottom of the list.”

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