Substance Abuse and
The interrelationship among substance abuse, crime, and incarceration, for both women and men, is undeniable, as noted in the previous chapter. The impact of substance abuse and the nation's response to it clearly is a major generator of the statistics presented in chapter 2. Substance abuse, as a result, warrants closer examination in this book. The subject, however, is complex and controversial, making a “rational” approach to its understanding arduous, if not impossible. The subject of alcohol and other drug abuse is one that has touched virtually every family in this country—some, obviously, more than others. I seriously doubt that any social worker in the profession has not been touched quite closely by this problem.
Increases in incarceration rates in the United States come at a time when there is widespread recognition that crime rates have decreased dramatically. Few areas of the country, and particularly the cities, have not been affected by the decrease in crime rate. However, that decrease has not resulted in a corresponding decrease in rates of incarceration and other forms of correctional supervision. Thus, this enigma needs to be addressed in order to better understand the consequences of incarceration, particularly for people of low income and of color.
According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (1999), more than 1.5 million people were arrested for drug law violations in 1997, the