People Serving Time in Federal Prisons in the US For Whom Drug Possession is the Most Serious Offense

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The US Dept. of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that on Sept. 30, 2012, there were a total of 187,773 people sentenced and serving time in US federal prison for any offense. Of those, 97,214 people (51.8% of the total) had as their most serious charge a drug offense: 96,907 of them for drug trafficking or manufacture (51.6% of the total), 296 for drug possession (0.16% of the total), and 11 for "other"* drug offenses.

(* "Other" includes investing illegal drug profits, operating a commercial carrier under the influence, and drug offenses that involve using the U.S. Postal Service.)


Sam Taxy, Julie Samuels, and William Adams, Urban Institute. “Drug Offenders in Federal Prison: Estimates of Characteristics Based on Linked Data.” NCJ248648. US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics: Washington, DC, Oct. 2015, p. 8, Table 8.

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