In the United States there are more than 65,000 federal inmates imprisoned on drug charges, in excess of 46% of the inmate population. The Sentencing Reform Act was introduced in 1984, since that time federal prison populations have exploded by 700% with nearly half of inmates sentenced under mandatory minimums for drug crimes. Inmates are sentenced to either 5 or 10 years as a minimum guideline which effectively ties the judges hands when looking at individual circumstances. Currently more than 69,000 federal inmates are between the ages of 22 and 41, making up the largest part of the population serving sentences for drug offenses.
In 1988 Congress passed another, pre-election Anti-Drug Law. One of the provisions was urged by the Department of Justice to simply close a little loophole. The change was to apply the mandatory sentences of 1986, intended for high level traffickers, to anyone who was a member of a drug trafficking conspiracy. The effect of this amendment was to make everyone in a conspiracy liable for every act of the conspiracy. If a defendant is simply the doorman at a crack house, he is liable for all the crack ever sold from that crack house — indeed, he is liable for all of the crack ever sold by the organization that runs the crack house. After the conspiracy amendment was enacted the prison population swelled. Within 6 years, the number of drug cases in federal prisons increased by 300%. From 1986 to 1998 it was up by 450% (Frontline, 1999).
These are what the offenders are up against. The truth has ceased to matter to the court and addicts are lumped into a large group of other addicts and locked away for many years without sufficient evidence of their part in a crime. Treatment is no longer an option in our country and any dollars that would possibly be used to increase treatment availability are used housing inmates at the cost of $102.00 per day.