* CASAColumbia analyzed data on inmates from 11 federal sources, reviewed more than 650 articles and other publications, examined best practices in prevention and treatment for substance-involved offenders, reviewed accreditation standards and analyzed costs and benefits of treatment.





America’s prisons and jails are rife with addiction and substance use. Research shows that the increase in America’s prison population is due overwhelmingly to criminal activity linked to alcohol and other drug use and addiction. Between 1996 and 2006, as the U.S. population rose by 12%, the number of adults incarcerated rose by 33% to 2.3 million inmates, and the number of inmates who were substance-involved shot up by 43% to 1.9 million inmates. *

Of the 2.3 million inmates crowding our nation’s prisons and jails, 85% were substance-involved; 1.5 million met the DSM-IV* medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction. Another 458,000 had not met the strict DSM-IV criteria but had histories of substance abuse and were under the influence of alcohol or other drugs at the time of their crime, committed their offense to get money to buy drugs, were incarcerated for an alcohol or drug law violation, or shared some combination of these characteristics. In 2006, alcohol and other drugs were involved in:

78% of violent crimes
83% of property crimes
77% of public order, immigration or weapons offenses and probation/parole violations

Alcohol was implicated in the incarceration of more than half of all inmates in America; illicit drugs were implicated in three-fourths of incarcerations.

In 2005, federal, state and local governments spent $74 billion on incarceration, court proceedings, probation and parole for substance-involved adult and juvenile offenders, and less than 1% of that amount—$632 million—on prevention and treatment.

The report found that only 11% of all inmates with addiction received any treatment during their incarceration. The report found that if all inmates who needed treatment and aftercare received such services, the nation would break even in a year if just over 10% remained substance-free, crime-free and employed. Thereafter, for each former inmate who remained substance-free, crime-free and employed, the nation would reap an economic benefit of $90,953 per year.

* Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition, Text Revision, also known as DSM-IV, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders.