New Jersey's Failed Drug Policies
Most Americans recognize that our current drug policies have failed, but as a nation we have been slow to initiate change. New Jersey has been particularly slow, even though the need for reform is evident in New Jersey's statistics on incarceration, public health, and drug treatment availability.
- New Jersey ranks #1 among the fifty states in terms of the proportion of drug offenders as part of the overall prison population and in new prison admissions who are drug offenders
- At this critical time in our state's history, when we are facing record budget deficits, and cutting critical social programs, New Jersey is spending $46,000 a year, per inmate, to incarcerate thousands of non-violent drug offenders. Drug treatment costs about $5000 a year, and for every dollar spent on drug treatment, taxpayers save seven dollars in other services, through reduced crime rates, savings in medical care, and increased productivity
- While African Americans account for 13 percent of the population of New Jersey, they account for 63 percent of prisoners and 81 percent of admissions to prisons for drug offenses
- At any given time in New Jersey between 16 and 18 percent of African American men are disenfranchised from voting because parolees and probationers are barred from voting in the state - the majority of the underlying convictions that trigger this bar are for drug offenses
- New Jersey has one of the worst ratings in the country when it comes to removing social and legal barriers to formerly incarcerated individuals so they can return successfully to their families and communities
- New Jersey is facing a public health crisis due to the spread of HIV and hepatitis C
- New Jersey has the 5th highest adult HIV rate in the country
- New Jersey has the 3rd highest pediatrics HIV rate in the country
- New Jersey has the highest proportion of women infected with HIV in the country
- While nationally, 21 percent of HIV infections are attributable to injection drug use, in New Jersey 45 percent of HIV infections are attributable to sharing of dirty needles
- It is estimated that up to 80 percent of injection drug users are infected with Hepatitis C
- New Jersey is almost alone among states in allowing for no form of sterile syringe access for injection drug users to prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases
- Half of the adults, and two-thirds of the adolescents who want treatment in New Jersey can't access it when they seek it, because of lack of treatment slots, or financial barriers
The time has come for New Jersey to take action. We invite you to join the Drug Policy Alliance in working for reform and the adoption of new policies based on reason, compassion, and justice.