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TRBR. Todd Bennett, P.C.

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Federal imprisonment for drug crimes

According to the Bureau of Prisons, there were nearly 200,000 people in federal prison in 2012, and over 50 percent of them were serving time for drug offenses. Of those drug convictions, nearly all of them involved trafficking, and 35 percent of the defendants had no prior imprisonments or had minimal criminal histories. However, some Texas residents might be curious as to what drugs and type of people are most often involved.

Of the 93,000 drug offenders that the Urban Institute analyzed, 50,421 were imprisoned for cocaine-related drug crimes, 24,012 for powder cocaine and 26,409 for crack cocaine. Additionally, 21,999 were imprisoned for methamphetamines, 11, 533 for marijuana, 5,800 for heroin, and 3,247 for other drugs such as ecstasy and prescriptions.

Among those in federal prison for drug convictions, 96 percent are male. While 37.2 percent are Hispanic or Latino and 38.8 percent are African American, 21.8 percent are white and the rest are American Indian and Asian. Hispanics, Latinos and American Indians are most likely to be imprisoned for marijuana, African Americans for crack cocaine, and Caucasians and Asians for ecstasy and prescription drugs.

The U.S> Department of Justice and other government officials are concerned about the massive prison population, and the DOJ has implemented reforms to give judges flexibility with sentencing individuals who are convicted of drug crimes. People who are accused of such offenses may have the possibility of avoiding incarceration through a plea agreement with the prosecutor negotiated with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. In other cases, the attorney can challenge the constitutionality of the search that led to the seizure of the drugs, potentially rendering the evidence inadmissible if successful.

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