Some 85 percent of the U.S. prison and jail inmates either meet the official criteria for substance abuse or addiction, had other substance abuse problems, or committed their offense for money to buy drugs, says the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). The center said only 11 percent of all inmates with substance abuse and addiction disorders receive treatment during their incarceration.
The report said that in 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in 78 percent of violent crimes, 83 percent of property crimes, and 77 percent of public order, immigration, or weapon offenses; and probation/parole violations. CASA said that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10 percent remained substance and crime free and employed. Thereafter, for each inmate who remained sober, employed, and crime free the U.S. would get an economic benefit of $90,953 per year. “States complain mightily about their rising prison costs; yet they continue to hemorrhage public funds that could be saved if they provided treatment to inmates with alcohol and other drug problems and stepped up use of drug courts and prosecutorial drug treatment alternative programs,” said CASA’s Susan Foster.