Possession Accounts for 90 Percent of Drug Arrests, New Report Says


A new report from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition finds that statewide drug possession arrests have increased by more than 30 percent from 1999 to 2011, with nine-out-of-10 drug arrests in the state stemming from possession charges.

The statistics from the Texas Department of Public Safety include an aggregation of adult and juvenile drug-related arrests.

According to the study, the price of housing individuals with drug possession offenses costs Texas tax payers more than $700,000 a day, with researchers estimating that the state will exceed its prison and jail capacities as early as the 2014 fiscal year.

The authors of the report suggest that community supervision programs could serve as less costly alternatives to drug possession-related incarceration. Researchers estimate the cost of housing one inmate in Texas would cost the state about $18,500 a year, whereas placing offenders in community-based facilities, with treatment services, would only cost the state about $3,500 annually.

Researchers also state that rehabilitative services are likelier to prevent recidivism. “Incarceration results in significantly greater levels of re-offending than treatment and other risk-reduction alternatives that are proved to be more cost efficient and programmatically effective,” the study’s authors wrote. “Research indicates the substance-using individuals are far less likely to commit a crime after receiving substance abuse treatment.”

The authors of the report believe that drug treatment and support services will ultimately net better public safety outcomes than incarceration.

“The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition strongly urges state and local decision-makers to increase options for practitioners seeking to address the harmful impact of addiction, including by making critical investments in programming that will benefit Texas in both the short-term and long-term,” the report states.

Photo courtesy of Harry525 via Flickr.

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James Swift

James Swift is a freelance reporter working in metro Atlanta.

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