The United States Supreme Court ruled earlier this week that California must release about 46,000 of the 156,000 inmates in its prison system or find other ways to relieve prison overcrowding. (Read a PDF of the ruling here.) Releasing those imprisoned for drug offenses would go a long way toward meeting this quota.
According to Jacob Sullum, blogging at Reason’s Hit & Run, there are nearly 25,000 drug offenders in the prisons now. Of these, 8,587 are in for simple possession of a controlled substance and 1,401 for marijuana-related offenses. He cites information gathered by the California chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which analyzes a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisoner census, linked at Sullum’s blog.
Sullum’s linked report also indicates just over 90,000 inmates are in for violent crimes (including murder, manslaughter, robbery, assault, sex offenses, and kidnapping). The balance committed property related crimes, such as burglary, theft, car theft, forgery, and drug offenses.