More than two-thirds of jail inmates are dependent on or abuse alcohol or drugs, says a survey by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly two-thirds of the prisoners with alcohol or drug involvement had been in some kind of substance abuse treatment program in the past. The data, from a 2002 survey of inmates, were reported yesterday to the Justice Department’s annual conference on criminal justice research and evaluation. Substance dependence or abuse was somewhat more of a problem for property crime offenders than for violent criminals. Only nine percent of the general population age 12 or older are classified as dependent on or abusing drugs or alcohol.
Among other data reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics at the conference: the number of female jail inmates nearly doubled between 1989 and 2002, to more than 73,000. Nearly 1 in 5 of the nation’s more than 600,000 local jail inmates on any given day are being held on behalf of some other governmental authority, including federal and state agencies. Despite the fact that only 20 percent of jail inmates are expected to stay more than a month, most large jails provide special services, including drug treatment, education, vocational training, and religious programs.