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National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse and the Office of National Drug Control Policy's Report on Substance Abuse and the Prison Population (Video)

NCJ Number
Joseph Califano
Date Published
January 1998
0 pages
This is a video of a 1998 news conference on C-Span in which Joseph Califano, Director of Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), reports on that organization's 3-year study of the prevalence of and policies toward substance abuse among the Nation's incarcerated population.
Regarding the prevalence of drug/alcohol abuse among inmates in America, 1 of every 4,400 in the general population is incarcerated for a drug-related crime. "Drug-related crime" refers to offenses directly related to the violation of a drug law or the violation of a law motivated by or under the influence of drug/alcohol abuse. The study found that in 1986 there were 1.4 million inmates (80 percent of the prison population) with substance-abuse problems. Recidivism, which was related to a return to prison, was found to be a function of substance abuse. Although evidence of substance abuse among inmates was strong, a study of the correctional system's response to inmates' substance abuse was found to be nonexistent, weak, or ineffective. During the period of the study, the number of inmates needing substance abuse treatment increased, while the number receiving treatment decreased. Substance-abuse treatment after release into the community was also rare, increasing the risk for recidivism and a return to prison. The study calls for mandatory substance-abuse treatment of offenders in prison and under community supervision. Mandatory prison sentences without parole are also criticized, since they offer no incentive for early release due to treatment participation or the structured monitoring of substance use under a parole regimen after release. Other recommended policies are a focus on substance-use prevention, particularly among adolescents; the diversion of nonviolent, substance-abusing offenders from prison to mandatory treatment in the community; offender job training; a religious focus in treatment; and an increase in prevention and treatment research. Questions from journalists follow the presentation.