California's Incarcerated Drug Offender Population: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Kathleen Auerhahn, Temple University

Since 1980, the populations of state and federal prisons have more than quadrupled. A significant portion of this increase in prison populations has been attributed to increased drug-law enforcement, particularly mandatory sentencing, int he wake of the War on Drugs. Who are4 these drug offenders? Have the demographic and criminal profile characteristics of the prison drug offender population changed over time? This article examines the compositional dynamics of the California state prison drug offender population over the period 1980-1998 using data-validated dynamic systems simulation modeling. Additionally, simulation modeling is used to prospectively evaluate the impact on California's prison population of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, a recently passed California initiative that prohibits incarceration and mandates treatment for first-time nonviolent offenders convicted of simple drug possession.

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Updated 05/20/2006