Arrests for drug offenses have nearly tripled since 1980, and more than 1,600,000 people were arrested for drug offenses in 2003. About 80% of these arrests are for possession offenses. In any given year, nearly twice as many people are convicted for a drug felony as for a violent felony, and in 2002, drug offenders accounted for about a third of felons convicted in state courts. In 2001, almost 250,000 drug offenders were incarcerated in state prisons, more than twelve times as many as in 1980. The offenses for which offenders were convicted denote only part of a strong relationship between addiction and crime. In 2002, approximately 80% of inmates, 80% of parolees, and 55% of probationers were either convicted for a drug (or alcohol)-related offense, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol while committing their offenses, committed their offenses in furtherance of a drug habit, or were regular drug users. More than 60% of adult, male arrestees test positive for illegal drugs at the time of their arrests in United States booking facilities that are part of the National Institute of Justice’s Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program.


Richard J. Bonnie, Judicially Mandated Treatment with Naltrexone for Opiate-addicted Criminal Offenders, 13 Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law, 64–88 (2005).