Sunday, August 28, 2005

Texas leads nation in jailing pot smokers

Texas incarcerates more people for marijuana than any other state, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a D.C.-based think tank, said in a new public policy report published last week. In Texas, "marijuana arrests comprised 56 percent of total drug arrests (48,963 out of 88,053 total arrests). Texas currently has 1,215 people in prison for marijuana as the controlling offense."

JPI cited federal estimates that 829,000 Texans currently use marijuana, meaning that, if the use estimates are accurate, Texas arrests about 6% of pot smokers in the state, annually. That's huge. I wonder how many pot smokers they'd have to arrest to actually create a deterrent? More than we can afford to incarcerate in overcrowded Texas county jails and prisons, that's for sure.

Nationally, nearly half of all drug arrests in 2003 were for marijuana, chalking up $5.1 billion in enforcement, adjudication and incarceration costs for marijuana alone, the group reports.

Download the full study here. Via Solutions for Texas.

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