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What's New At Drug War Facts - Vol. 4, No. 2, Feb. 2014

Issue In Focus

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” That is a direct quote from President Barack Obama, from an interview with David Remnick in the January 27, 2014 edition of the New Yorker Magazine. That may be the only part of the interview that a lot of folks have heard about. It's an incredible interview, well worth the read, and it's available for free online at
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2014/01/27/140127fa_fact_remnick?curr...

After making his comment, the President clarified that he has told his daughters that he thinks marijuana is a bad idea, a waste of time, and not very healthy. Here's more of that passage:

What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”
As is his habit, he nimbly argued the other side. “Having said all that, those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case. There is a lot of hair on that policy. And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”

Remnick then quotes the President as saying:

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues. If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we O.K. with that?”

That's the slippery-slope argument, the idea that once we're headed in the direction of reform it will be hard to stop. On the other hand if reforms are needed, if they represent improvements over the current system, if the current system is broken, then that could be argued to be a positive outcome. We should be more than merely okeh with President Obama's possible future. What we don't yet have in our arsenal of treatment options is an accepted proven method of substitution treatment for stimulants. We've been using substitution treatment for opiates for decades, that's heavily studied and proven effective, as we show in the Drug War Facts section on methadone and opioid substutition treatment
http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Methadone#sthash.vKYi9FvD.dpbs

A reasonably safe substitute therapy for stimulants would be more than okeh, it would be a tremendous medical and scientific advance. It's possible that the President understands this and he's simply presenting that idea in the nasty negative way that opponents will use, as a warning to activists to be prepared. Not likely, yet it is possible.

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Notable New Facts

(US Population Under Community Supervision Declining) "During 2012, the number of adults under community supervision declined for the fourth consecutive year. At yearend 2012, an estimated 4,781,300 adults were under community supervision, down 40,500 offenders from the beginning of the year (figure 1). About 1 in 50 adults in the United States was under community supervision at yearend 2012. The community supervision population includes adults on probation, parole, or any other post-prison supervision. (See BJS definition of probation and parole.)
"The decline in the total number of adults under community supervision is attributed to the drop in the probation population as probationers accounted for the majority (82%) of adults under community supervision. The decline of 38,300 offenders in the probation population (from an estimated 3,981,000 to 3,942,800) accounted for about 95% of the decline in the overall community supervision population. The parole population declined by about 500 offenders during 2012, falling from an estimated 851,700 to 851,200."
Source: Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails#sthash.yi22N2Wi.dpuf

(Adult Incarceration and Community Supervision Rates, 2012) "About 1,980 offenders per 100,000 adult residents were supervised in the community on probation or parole in 2012, a drop from 2,010 per 100,000 in 2011. By yearend 2012, the community supervision rate fell below 2,000 per 100,000 adult residents for the first time since 2000, which was similar to the rate last observed in 1997 (1,990 per 100,000). The incarceration rate also decreased between 2011 (940 inmates per 100,000 adults) and 2012 (920 per 100,000). About 1 in every 108 adults was incarcerated in prison or jail at yearend 2012, compared to about 1 in every 50 under community supervision."
Source: Lauren E. Glaze and Erinn J. Herberman, PhD., "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2013), NCJ243936, pp. 2-3.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails#sthash.yi22N2Wi.dpuf

(Rate of Adults Under Correctional Supervision in the US, 2012) “About 2,870 offenders per 100,000 U.S. adult residents (or about 2.9% of adults) were under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2012 (table 1). The correctional supervision rate dropped below 2,900 per 100,000 adult residents for the first time since 2000, which was similar to the rate last observed in 1997 (2,860 per 100,000) when about 1.2 million fewer offenders were under correctional supervision (5.7 million).
"After peaking in 2007 at 3,210 offenders per 100,000 adult residents, the rate of correctional supervision declined each year. Slightly more than half (52%) of the decrease from 2007 to 2011 was attributed to the decrease in the number of offenders under correctional supervision during the period. Less than half (48%) of the decline was due to the increase in the number of adult residents in the United States (not shown in table).1 In contrast, from 2011 to 2012 the increase in the adult resident population accounted for most (63%) of the decline in the correctional supervision rate, while 37% was due to the decline in the number of offenders under correctional supervision."
Source: Lauren E. Glaze and Erinn J. Herberman, PhD., "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2013), NCJ243936, p. 2.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Jails#sthash.yi22N2Wi.dpuf

(Drug Offenders in US Prisons 2012)
Federal: On Dec. 31, 2012, there were 196,574 sentenced prisoners under federal jurisdiction. Of these, 99,426 were serving time for drug offenses, 11,688 for violent offenses, 11,568 for property offenses, and 72,519 for "public order" offenses (of which 23,700 were sentenced for immigration offenses, 30,046 for weapons offenses, and 17,633 for "other").
State: On Dec. 31, 2011, there were 1,341,797 sentenced prisoners under state jurisdiction. Of these, 222,738 were serving time for drug offenses, of whom 55,013 were merely convicted for possession. There were also 717,861 serving time for violent offenses, 249,574 for property offenses, 142,230 for "public order" offenses (which include weapons, drunk driving, court offenses, commercialized vice, morals and decency offenses, liquor law violations, and other public-order offenses), and 9,392 for "other/unspecified".
Source: E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, "Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920, Table 5, p. 3, and Appendix Table 10, p. 43.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/Prisons_and_Drugs#sthash.hayPKnwY.dpuf

(Allegations of Sexual Violence Against Inmates Reported by Adult Correctional Facilities in the US 2011) "In 2011, correctional administrators reported 8,763 allegations of sexual victimization in prisons, jails, and other adult correctional facilities (figure 1). About half (51%) involved allegations of nonconsensual sexual acts or abusive sexual contacts of inmates with other inmates, and half (49%) involved staff sexual misconduct or sexual harassment directed toward inmates. About 10% of the allegations (902) were substantiated based on follow-up investigation. While the number of allegations has risen since 2005 (6,241), the number substantiated has remained nearly unchanged (885 in 2005)."
Source: Allen J. Beck, PhD, Ramona R. Rantala, and Jessica Rexroat, "Sexual Victimization Reported by Adult Correctional Authorities, 2009-11" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2014), NCJ243904.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/3539#sthash.kZvgOTzN.dpuf

(Effectiveness of Student Drug Testing Compared With Positive School Climate) "The current research reinforces previous conclusions that SDT is a relatively ineffective drug-prevention policy (Goldberg et al., 2007; Sznitman, 2013a; Yamaguchi et al., 2003). On the other hand, interventions that improve school climate may have greater efficacy. Indeed, 'whole school' health promotion efforts and interventions that work with students, teachers, and parents to develop positive school staff–student relationships and promote students’ security have been found to reduce substance use (Bond et al., 2004;
Fletcher et al., 2008).
"Certainly, schools are important as social and learning environments affecting not only academic achievement but also health behaviors. Young people whose relationships with their fellow students and teachers lack respect are more likely to initiate and escalate use of drugs, as evidenced in this and other studies (Fletcher et al., 2008) and to be subject to other mental health problems (Blum and Libbey, 2004; Catalano et al., 2004; LaRusso et al., 2008). Therefore, the potential consequences of poor school climates for young people’s health are far reaching and deserving of attention."
Source: Sharon R. Sznitman, PhD, and Daniel Romer, PhD, "Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study," Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2014.
- See more at: http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/node/3540#sthash.a6U6izoU.dpuf

Notable New Sources

Laura M. Maruschak and Thomas P. Bonczar, "Probation and Parole in the United States, 2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2012), NCJ243826, p. 1.

Lauren E. Glaze and Erinn J. Herberman, PhD., "Correctional Populations in the United States, 2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2013), NCJ243936.

E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, "Prisoners in 2012: Trends in Admissions and Releases, 1991-2012" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, Dec. 2013), NCJ243920.

Allen J. Beck, PhD, Ramona R. Rantala, and Jessica Rexroat, "Sexual Victimization Reported by Adult Correctional Authorities, 2009-11" (Washington, DC: US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, January 2014), NCJ243904.

Sharon R. Sznitman, PhD, and Daniel Romer, PhD, "Student Drug Testing and Positive School Climates: Testing the Relation Between Two School Characteristics and Drug Use Behavior in a Longitudinal Study," Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Vol. 75, No. 1, January 2014.

Media

Check out the new Drug Policy Facts podcast! Listen, download, and subscribe from
http://www.podcastgarden.com/podcast/drugwarfacts. Catch up on the latest news, information, and commentary, brought to you once a week and hosted by Drug War Facts Editor Doug McVay.

DWF Editor Doug McVay wrote and produced the following segments for the Drug Truth Network:
420 News 1/8/14: New report on US prison population http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4677
420 News 1/15/14: Report on racial disparities in the drug war http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4687
Cultural Baggage 1/19/14: Segment on effectiveness of school drug testing http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4692
420 News 1/27/14: In-depth report on US prison population http://www.drugtruth.net/cms/node/4703