Study: Nearly 1 in 3 federal convictions drug-related

Study: Nearly 1 in 3 federal convictions drug-related

Drug offenses account for nearly a third of all federal convictions, according to data released Tuesday by the Delphi Behavioral Health Group.

Drug convictions made up more than 30 percent of all federal offenses in 2017, beating out immigration convictions, the second most-frequent, the addiction treatment provider said. Firearm offenses were a distant third, at 12.1 percent.

While overall drug convictions have reached their lowest point in more than two decades, methamphetamine was one of only two drugs to see an increase in related convictions from 2010 to 2017, according to the data.

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In those years, drug offenses involving methamphetamine grew 71.2 percent, compared with marijuana, which fell 37.4 percent; powder cocaine fell 28.7 percent; and crack cocaine fell 68.4 percent. The fall in marijuana offenses is likely largely attributable to increasing legalization of the drug for both medicinal and recreational use, according to the report.

Heroin was the only other drug to see offenses increase from 2010, rising 74.3 percent, according to the group.

When the data is broken down by state, Delphi found Vermont had the highest percentage of drug offenders among overall federal offenders, at 61.2 percent, followed by Connecticut, with 54.8 percent, and Hawaii, with 50 percent. The national average is 30.8 percent.

The state numbers may largely be due to racial disparities in enforcement, according to the report.

“With a population made up of 95.2 percent of Caucasians and just 1.2 percent of African Americans, there are nearly 10 times more African Americans people behind bars in Vermont than there are walking free,” the group said in the report. “Unfortunately, this isn’t just occurring in Vermont or other states with high percentages of drug offenders. All over the country, there is a clear racial bias still present in the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to drug-related crimes.”

Iowa imposes the stiffest sentences for federal drug-related offenses, with an average of 111 months, according to Delphi, followed by Kentucky with 107 months and Tennessee with 101 months. Arizona imposes the shortest sentences, with an average of 17 months, followed by New York with an average of 33 months and New Mexico with an average of 34 months, according to Delphi.