Skip to main content

Drug War Update, the year 2008 in review

As far as the war on drugs is concerned, as far as 2008 is concerned we simply conclude that "the beat goes on."  More than $50.8 billion was spent on this never-ending campaign, with the states spending about 60% of the money.  Almost 1.9 million were arrested for drug offenses during the year, 831,000 for marijuana alone, mostly possession.  Almost 11,000 were incarcerated as a result of their arrest and conviction. As everyone knows, race and gender are of critical importance in understanding the impact of the drug war.  The latest figures show that the overall incarceration rate for blacks is more than six times greater than for whites.  Almost half of all state prisoners (44.8%) serving time for drug offenses are black, compared to 20% Hispanics and 28.5% whites. Women have been hit especially hard in recent years (especially minorities) as they represent the largest percentage increase in the prison population. Drug offenses are the most serious offense for two-thirds of the women in federal prisons and almost 30% of women in state prisons. The social impact of the drug war is felt far beyond the individuals who end up in prison, for several million children are left without a parent in the home and thousands of communities suffer as well.  (See Todd Clear's excellent study). There are several other good sources on this issue, such as the following:; Jeremy Travis, Children Once Removed and Nell Bernstein's All Along in the World (both can be view at this Amazon site).

Hopefully the Obama administration can finally put an end to this very destructive social policy.

Keywords: marijuana, racial disparities, Randall Shelden, substance use

Posted in Blog, Drug Policy

Contribute to CJCJ

Make a difference to youth and adults trying to get their lives back on track.

California Stentencing Institute screenshot

California Sentencing
Institute (CASI)

Explore how California’s 58 counties send their residents to correctional institutions with interactive maps, charts, and downloadable data.

Connect with us


Contribute to CJCJ

Make a difference to youth and adults trying to get their lives back on track.

Join our mailing list

Get regular updates and news delivered to your inbox. We won’t share your information with anyone else.