Last week, the Army Times ran an editorial calling for treatment–not incarceration–for veterans suffering from substance abuse and caught up in the crossfire of the “war on drugs.” Often lost in the sad statistics about incarceration under current drug laws is that many of those inmates are veterans who have served our nation under fire.
Consider these sobering statistics from the recently released report “Healing a Broken System: Veterans Battling Addiction and Incarceration,” by the Drug Policy Alliance:
- 140,000 veterans were incarcerated in state and federal prisons.
- 46 percent of veterans in federal prison were incarcerated for drug law violations.
- 15 percent of veterans in state prison were incarcerated for drug law violations, including 5.6 percent for simple possession.
- More than 25 percent of veterans in prison were intoxicated at the time of their arrest.
- 61 percent of incarcerated veterans met the DSM-IV criteria for substance dependence or abuse.
- More than half of veterans in federal (64percent) and state prisons (54 percent) served during wartime.
- 26 percent of veterans in federal prison and 20 percent in state prison served in combat.
- 38 percent of veterans in state prison received less than an honorable discharge, which may disqualify them for VA benefits.