Women Inmate Population On the Rise

December 2005

The Rocky Mountain News reports that Colorado's female and state inmate population has grown by 166% in the past decade. The article focuses on a meth seller and addict doing 20 years, but fails to tell us how many of the women inmates in Colorado are doing long stretches for drug offenses. Nationwide, the stats are:

Nearly one-third of female inmates are in prison for drug crimes, compared with one in five for men, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. A third of females are incarcerated for violent offenses such as murder and robbery.

Should Colorado be handing down 20-year sentences for addicts who sell to other addicts? I wonder how many judges are imposing these kind of sentences. Are sentences longer for meth users than other illegal drug users? Which brings me to the next point. Is Colorado in the throes of a meth epidemic? Mike Krause of Independence Institute in Golden reports the data shows otherwise:

In 2005, the National Association of Counties (NACO) surveyed 500 county law enforcement agencies, including nineteen in Colorado, and concluded that America is in the midst of a methamphetamine "epidemic.� Fifty-eight percent of counties identified methamphetamine as their single largest drug problem, including methamphetamine related crimes such as robberies and burglaries, domestic violence, simple assault and identity theft. Yet some federal drug warriors take a more sober view. Scott Burns, Deputy Director of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) recently contradicted the "epidemic� rhetoric, telling a Congressional sub-committee that America's estimated 1.5 million methamphetamine users make up only 8% of the country's estimated 19 million drug users.

Tags: