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WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Drug offenses accounted for 23 percent of

the charges against the almost 400,000 men and women being held in

local jails during 1989--up from 9 percent in 1983, the Bureau of

Justice Statistics announced today. The Bureau, a component of the

Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice, reported

that the number of inmates in the nation's 3,312 local jails grew 77

percent from 1983 to 1989. More than 40 percent of that growth

resulted from the increased number of persons held for or convicted of

drug offenses.

"The dramatic increase in the number of persons in jails on

drug charges occurred both among those awaiting trial and those

already convicted of crimes," said Bureau Director Steven D.

Dillingham. "And more than one-half of all convicted jail inmates

said they had committed the offense for which they were incarcerated

under the influence of drugs or alcohol or both."

The findings were drawn from a nationally representative

survey of 5,675 inmates held in 424 local jails. Similar Bureau

surveys of jail inmates were conducted in 1972, 1978 and 1983. A jail

is a locally administered institution that holds people awaiting trial

or already sentenced, usually for one year or less.

About half of all jail inmates in 1989 had been convicted and

were serving time, 7 percent had been convicted but not yet sentenced,

26 percent were awaiting or on trial and 16 percent were awaiting


An estimated 46 percent of the jail inmates in 1989 were on

probation, on parole, on bail or were in some other criminal justice

status at the time of their arrest. More than three-quarters of all

inmates being held in 1989 for any offense had had a prior sentence of

probation or incarceration. At least a third of the inmates were in

jail for a violent offense or had been previously sentenced for a

violent offense. Other survey results:

--More than four of every 10 convicted inmates said they had

been using an illegal drug during the month before they committed the

offense for which they were incarcerated. About one in four convicted

inmates said they had used a major drug, such as heroin, cocaine,

crack, LSD or PCP, in that month.

--Women and Hispanic prisoners were the most likely among all

jail inmates to be held on drug charges--about one-third in each


--Among convicted inmates, 29 percent reported they had

committed their offenses under the influence of only alcohol, 15

percent under the influence of only drugs and 12 percent under the

influence of both.

--Almost one-third of all jail inmates said they had

participated in a substance abuse treatment program at some time in

their lives--about 18 percent of the inmates had received treatment

for drugs, 9 percent for alcohol and 6 percent for both.

--More than four of every 10 female inmates reported they had

been abused at some time before their current incarceration--33

percent physically and 36 percent sexually.

--About 39 percent of all jail inmates had grown up in a

single parent household and an additional 11 percent had lived in a

household without either parent.

--The racial and ethnic composition of local jails changed

between 1983 and 1989--blacks increased from 38 percent to 42 percent

of the inmates population, Hispanics increased from 14 percent to 17

percent and the percentage of white non-Hispanics decreased from 46

percent to 39 percent.

--The female jail population increased from 7.1 percent in

1983 to 9.5 percent in 1989. One of every four female inmates was in

jail for larceny or fraud.

--About 11 percent of the inmates were being held for other

authorities--most awaiting transportation to a state prison.

--Among the inmates who had been sentenced to serve their time

in local jails, half had received a sentence of six months of less.

It is estimated that about half of the inmates sentenced to local

jails would serve less than five months.

Single copies of the special report, "Profile of Jail Inmates,

1989," (NCJ-129097), as well as other Bureau of Justice Statistics

publications and statistical information may be obtained from the

National Criminal Justice Reference Service, Box 6000, Rockville, MD

20850. The telephone number is 1-301-251-5500. The toll-free number

from areas other than Maryland and metropolitan Washington, D.C.,




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