Between 1974 and 2001 the percentage of Americans in prison per ca pita had doubled. Details on their stats and backgrounds can be found HERE
In 1970 the "War on Drugs" was officially federal policy. Coincidence? Approximately 25% of those in prisons are there on drug, not "drug related," charges. (Cited HERE) From yet another report we get this: "According to a federal survey of jail inmates, in 2002, of the 96,359 violent offenders in jail, 37.6% used alcohol at the time of their offense, 21.8% used drugs, and 47.2% used alcohol or drugs; of the 112,895 property offenders in jail that year, 28.5% used alcohol at the time of their offense, 32.5% used drugs, and 46.8% used alcohol or drugs; of the 112,447 drug offenders in jail that year, 22.4% used alcohol at the time of their offense, 43.2% used drugs, and 51.7% used drugs or alcohol at the time of their offense." Truth be told, I haven't touched an "illegal drug" in almost 20 years, not because they are "illegal" but because I do not like their effects on my consciousness. Yet we sell alcohol on street corners, glorify it's usage and overturned prohibition. Did incarceration rise and all of the crazies come out with the repeal of prohibition, no... would everyone become a junkie if the "war on drugs" was ended...nope. According to the American Corrections Association, the average daily cost per state prison inmate per day in the US is $67.55. State prisons held 249,400 inmates for drug offenses in 2006. That means it cost states approximately $16,846,970 per day to imprison drug offenders, or $6,149,144,050 per year.
One more fun fact, in 1984 the first "private prison" was opened in Tennessee. Look at that graph above again...see it. Crime does pay, depending on where you sit. What will you do, when what you do is no longer condoned. In this time of deficit, do we really need to spend $19 billion to enforce and $6.15 billion on punishment of this? To see this years direct cost per second, you can go HERE
I may revisit this topic as I finish my reading on "health care" and prescription costs, as reform is thrust upon us, and the potential costs of trying to synthesize the effects of mother natures medicine.
PS - My main point is to question the "official story," no matter your personal beliefs and perspectives. I have no love for drugs, druggies and drug dealers.