Criminal justice and public health systems can work together to provide comprehensive HIV prevention and treatment inside and outside correctional facilities. Incarceration presents a window of opportunity for primary prevention, screening, treatment and establishing comprehensive, pro-active transitional linkages for persons approaching release and follow-up.

These fact sheets focus on HIV prevention issues related to syringes.

Need-to-know facts about women, prison and the drug war.

Charles recalls, "I was hesitant about trying marijuana, worried about how or where I would get it, but I was desperate for relief. I couldn’t stand the pain. I wanted to be the husband and father my wife and three girls deserve. It worked. As a result of the relief medical marijuana provides me, I can do things that a normal 37 year-old can do, like cook dinner for my wife and give my three-year old a piggyback ride."

Until recently, little thought was given to the negative consequences of incarcerating such large numbers of people. But a growing body of research has found that our policies of mass incarceration, especially as they relate to nonviolent drug law violators, are hurting the vulnerable families and communities they were meant to protect.

Over the last 20 years, the U.S. prison population has grown at a staggering rate. The engine driving this explosive growth has been the incarceration of nonviolent law offenders and mandatory minimum sentencing. The U.S. now has the largest prison population, numerically and per capita, in the world. More than 2.2 million people are incarcerated in the United States. One in one hundred adults in the U.S. is behind bars. The U.S. accounts for only five percent of the world’s population, but we account for 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

New Jersey’s racial disparities in incarceration are above the national average. In New Jersey, African Americans and Latinos account for only 27 percent of the population but they account for 81 percent of those incarcerated in the state. While measures of drug use such as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse consistently find similar rates of drug use for African American and whites, the rate of incarceration for drug offenses for African Americans far exceeds that for whites.

Incarceration is an expensive and economically inefficient method for addressing nonviolent drug offenses. It is like using emergency rooms to provide primary medical care — expensive and inefficient. Treatment, community supervision and other innovative and effective programs could save taxpayer money and provide a return on investment.

Ineffective and unfair mandatory minimum sentences are opposed by a wide range of legal and professional organizations. These organizations have taken strong public stands against mandatory minimums

Prominent experts on criminal sentencing are increasingly outspoken against ineffective and unfair mandatory minimum sentences and in favor of reform. These experts include Supreme Court Justices, federal judges and national policy experts

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