US Drug Arrest Rate Dropping, But Still Sky High

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The arrest rate for drug violations in the US has decreased for the last four years, but still remains more than twice as high as rates in the early 1980s, the University of Maryland's Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) reported Monday. The finding was based on analysis of data from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program.

drug bust (wikimedia.org)
According to CESAR's analysis, last year, there were 530.8 drug arrests per 100,000 US residents, down 15.6% from the all-time high of 632.9 in 2006. Overall drug arrests have declined all four years since then.

Of the 2010 drug arrests, 18% were for sale or manufacture and 82% were for drug possession. More than half of all drug arrests were for marijuana violations. CESAR will report next week on trend data for the types of drugs that have resulted in drug arrests for the past 30 years.

While the drug arrest rate is declining, drug arrests still accounted for more than 1.6 million busts last year.

The drug arrest rate per 100,000 was at about 250 in 1980 before shooting up to more than 500 in 1989 as the Reagan-era drug war blossomed. The arrest rate dipped to around 400 in the early 1990s, but went over 500 in 1994 and has remained above that mark ever since. After declining slightly in 2002, arrest rates steadily increased at mid-decade, going over 600 in 2005, 2006, and 2007, before sliding under 600 in 2008 and declining slightly since then.

United States
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