While imprisonment may currently be the best solution for more serious criminals, a large portion of prison populations consists of those who have committed less violent crimes, specifically drug offenders. As recently as 2009, statistics show that prisoners convicted of drug-related offenses made up approximately 50.7 percent of the total population in federal prisons.
The American Corrections Association showed that states spent approximately $17,110,415 per day to hold 253,300 drug offenders in prison during 2007. Seventeen million dollars in just one day for only drug offenders incarcerated in the United States. If you do the math, that is $6,245,301,475. In a year, the United States is spending about six and a quarter billion dollars solely on keeping prisoners who are drug offenders.
There are various alternatives within the criminal justice system that are not only less expensive, but maybe more successful in helping these types of convicts assimilate back into society instead of occupying more space in jails and prisons. Among these alternative methods is the use of drug courts and their rehabilitation programs, as well as community service sentencing. Utilizing these methods of the criminal justice system more heavily can help reduce spending all over the country, which could potentially be billions of dollars.