Monday, January 14, 2013

Will increasing drug arrests once again overflow Texas prisons ?

By Michael Williams, Backgate Website

Arrests for drug simple possession have increased 32% over the last decade, and about 90% of all drug related arrests are possession based and not for distribution, says a recent article in the Texas Tribune. In 2011, 27,000 offenders were in Texas prisons for possession of drugs, while only 16,000 were serving time for distribution. So what does that tell us ? Well with the Legislature cutting or under funding diversion programs and rehab facilities for drug users that means MONEY. Ana Yáñez Correa, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, stated that the recent dip in prison incarceration numbers would soon rise again if some thought didn't go back into diversion programs for users.

So whats more expensive ? The diversion programs or the prison stay ? Well we all know the answer to that question. With budget cuts for schools, and state programs still looming this Legislative session as they did last, it could be wise to weigh the two options carefully. Some even ask the question, should we even be spending our time concerned about putting drug users in jail in the first place ? States like California, and even now Colorado allow personal use of marijuana for medical reasons. Is a full recreational usage bill right around the corner ? Either way, if something doesn't change, the state is projected to once again exceed capacity by 2014. We will be watching closely at how the Ledge tackles this issue this session.


  1. From the Desk of BoBoTheBeaten:

    District Judges ultimately makes the decision if drug offenders should be sent to prison or not. If the judges decides as an entire body they won't send offenders to prison for drug offenses then those beds won't get filled.

  2. The War on Drugs has been the greatest travesty of our criminal justice system. Throughout American history, politicians have changed the laws to target specific populations of people. From prohibition to the war on drugs, politicians have used substance abuse as political red herrings -- many of them drink and drive and use illegal substances themselves. Clinton, who claims to not have inhaled, did more to escalate the war on drugs than any other President. It is so much less expensive to treat addiction as a healthcare issue than a criminal issue. Simply ending this insanely expensive and morally corrupt "war" would free up close to 60% of the beds in prisons in the US. Imagine the dollars TDCJ could spend on proper staff training, proper staff to inmate ratio, etc. if our prisons were not overflowing with addicts who are being treated as criminals? TDCJ employees should step up and let Congress know you are tired of taking care of addicts who should be in treatment facilities and not prisons. Let your focus be on real criminals.

  3. But the new study published by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition points starkly to the incredible numbers of people in prison--for possession! not sales, not crime against the person. Perhaps publicity about these statistics will help wake up the new legislators--write, call email!

  4. Thank republicans for the war on drugs. You confused about Clinton.

  5. Anon Jan 24: I am very much a straight-ticket Democrat. I am very sad to say that I am not confused about Clinton. He did more to further the War on Drugs than any other President. Sad but true.