America's local jails are bursting at the seams because of crimes committed while people consumed drugs, alcohol or both, the government says.
More than half of all convicted jail prisoners committed crimes while taking drugs or alcohol, and drug offenses caused an almost 80 percent increase in the number of people in America's jails between 1983 and 1989, according to a Justice Department study released Wednesday.The study showed that drug offenses accounted for 23 percent of the charges against the almost 400,000 men and women held in local jails during 1989 - up from 9 percent in 1983.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics also said the number of prisoners in America's 3,312 local jails jumped by 77 percent from 1983 to 1989. More than 40 percent of the growth was caused by people held on, or convicted of, drug charges.
"The dramatic increase in the number of persons in jails on drug charges occurred both among those awaiting trial and those already convicted of crimes," said Steven Dillingham, head of the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
"More than one-half of all convicted jail inmates said they had committed the offense for which they were incarcerated under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both."