Skip navigation
No more
Know more

The war on drugs fills half of federal prison cells

According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, just over half of inmates in federal prisons are incarcerated for drug offenses. This would be comical if it weren’t so tragic. To be sure, drugs can harm your health, and an addict’s need for a substance can make her a danger to herself or those around her. Yet it is a mystery why anyone would think the existing system of probation and imprisonment for drug offenses would help addicts break their bad habits. What we’re doing obviously isn’t working. The good news is that states and local governments are now hesitating to enforce the laws against possession, specifically of marijuana. Cops just seem less interested in making arrests as some jurisdictions formally legalize or decriminalize the drug. The proportion of inmates in state prisons for drug offenses recently fell to 16.6 percent, though it has long been much lower than the current federal statistic of 50.1 percent.

Click below for further discussion of the exceptionally large U.S. prison population.

Max Ehrenfreund | March 12, 2014 at 9:24 am
Know more: The United States has only 5 percent of the world's population but nearly a quarter of its prisoners
No more
Know more
The incredible power of the measles vaccine, in one graph
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The history of American inequality, in 1 fascinating chart
Ana Swanson
ADVERTISEMENT
No more
Know more
Americans are driving less than we ever expected
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Americans believe in religious freedom — just not for Muslims
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
What California’s drought looks like from space
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
A map shows hundreds of submerged shipwrecks off the U.S. coast
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Once upon a time, Europeans thought California was an island
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Map: Where $1.7 billion in military equipment has gone to in the states
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The world’s worst cities for gridlock
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
The country with the most powerful passport is pretty much what you’d expect
Ana Swanson
No more
Know more
Charted: What punk, rap, country and folk artists are likely to die from
Ana Swanson