The Myth of Drug-Filled Prisons

I was on a panel recently where I enumerated some reasons why I think it is a mistake to mass incarcerate drug-addicted criminal offenders. The chair of the panel cracked “You forgot to mention that they use even more drugs behind bars than they do on the street!”. The other guests and members of the audience nodded knowingly.

Insert Al Gore-esque sigh here.

I have written before about how many people who have never been in a prison are confident that they know what prisons are like. This is one example: the “common knowledge” that drugs are just as available inside the stony lonesome as they are outside. I deflate this myth with research evidence in my piece today at Washington Post’s Wonkblog.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College Lonon. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over ten thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.