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Let us work out some arithmetic based again on FBI statistics. In 2011, law enforcement personnel arrested a massive 12,408,899 individuals. Of these, 1,531,251, 12.3%, were for “drug abuse violations.” 49.5% of these individuals were for crimes relating to marijuana. That is 757,969 people arrested for crimes dealing with marijuana. Knowing how many people were arrested in 2011 for marijuana related offenses, let us calculate the cost of this incarceration for taxpayers.
According to Urban Institute Justice Policy Center, the yearly cost for an inmate in a minimum security prison is $21,006. Let us use this figure because 56% of all inmates are housed in minimum security institutions. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, in 2010, the average prison sentence for inmates incarcerated for marijuana abuses is 36.8 years.
With 757,969 individuals incarcerated for marijuana abuse, at $21,006 a pop, that is $15,921,896,814 to keep these individuals imprisoned for one year. At this rate, over the course of 36.8 years, $585,925,802,755 would have to be coughed up by the American taxpayer to clothe, shelter, offer medical, dental and psychiatric care, maintain, transport, and educate these individuals and maintain facilities for them to live in. This — $585 billion over more than 30 years —%
Source: The Compassion Chronicles