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Drugs and Crime Facts, 1988

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 1989
This report summarizes recent research on the use of illegal drugs by criminal offenders, trends in this use, the prosecution and sentencing of drug law violators, public opinion about drugs, and drug use in the general population.

Data from Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) surveys show that most jail and prison inmates have used illegal drugs at some point and that 54 percent of State prison inmates in 1986 reported that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both at the time they committed the offenses for which they were sentenced. The proportion of offenders reporting illegal drug use at some time or being under the influence of drugs when they committed crimes increased between 1978 and 1983. Drug law violators accounted for 20 percent of all persons or organizations referred to United States Attorneys during the 1986 fiscal year. Federal drug offenders served an average of 38.5 months. The typical accused Federal drug law offender is male, about age 30, and white. The number of Gallup Poll respondents describing drug abuse as the most important problem facing the nation has grown from 2 percent in January 1985 to 11 percent in April 1987. Self-reported use of illegal drugs by high school seniors has declined in recent years, but the surveys do not include truants and dropouts and therefore understate actual drug use. Discussion of BJS reports and data sources on illegal drugs.

Date Published: September 1, 1989