On any given day in the United States, at least 137,000 people sit behind bars on simple drug-possession charges, according to a report released Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch.
Nearly two-thirds of them are in local jails. The report says that most of these jailed inmates have not been convicted of any crime: They’re sitting in a cell, awaiting a day in court, an appearance that may be months or even years off, because they can’t afford to post bail.
“It’s been 45 years since the war on drugs was declared, and it hasn’t been a success,” lead author Tess Borden of Human Rights Watch said in an interview. “Rates of drug use are not down. Drug dependency has not stopped. Every 25 seconds, we’re arresting someone for drug use.”
“In 2015, more than 78 percent of people sentenced to incarceration for felony drug possession in Texas possessed under a gram,” the report found.