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Drug Use, Testing and Treatment in Jails 2000, DOJ BJS, 2000

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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs

Revised

9/29/00

Bureau of Justice Statistics

Special Report
May 2000, NCJ 179999

Drug Use, Testing,
and Treatment in Jails
By Doris James Wilson
BJS Statistician
In 1998 an estimated 417,000 jail
inmates (70% of all inmates in local
facilities) had committed a drug offense
or used drugs regularly, compared to
261,000 (67%) in 1989. About 138,000
convicted jail inmates were under the
influence of drugs at the time of the
offense. About 72,000 convicted jail
inmates had used marijuana or hashish
and 59,000 had used cocaine or crack
cocaine.
Offenders in local jails reported a
history of prior drug use similar to that
of State prison inmates. Over half of jail
(55%) and State inmates (57%) said
they had used drugs in the month
before the offense. About a fifth of
these jail inmates and a third of State
inmates had participated in substance
abuse programs or treatment since
admission. Compared to offenders on
probation (32%), jail inmates were
more likely to report using drugs in the
month before the offense. A higher
percentage of probationers than jail
inmates had participated in treatment
since beginning their sentence (42%).
This report, the third in the series on
prior drug use and treatment of offenders, focuses on local jail inmates and
jail jurisdictions. Past BJS reports
include Substance Abuse and Treatment, State and Federal Prisoners,
1997, and Substance Abuse and Treatment of Adults on Probation, 1995.

Highlights
In 1998 an estimated 7 in 10 local jail inmates had used drugs regularly
or had committed a drug offense
Percent of Estimated  An estimated 61,000 (16%)
convicted jail inmates committed their
1998
inmatesa
All inmates
offense to get money for drugs.
Drug offense/regular use
Any drug offense

70.3%
25.6

417,000
152,000

Convicted inmates
Under the influence
at time of offense
Use in month before

35.6%
55.0

138,000
213,000

Drugs used at time of offense
18.5%
Marijuana or hashish
Cocaine/crack
15.2
Heroin
5.6

72,000
59,000
22,000

Active drug involvementb
a
b

65.5%

253,000

 Two-thirds of convicted jail inmates

were actively involved with drugs prior
to their admission to jail.
 Overall, 71% of local jail jurisdictions

reported that they had a policy to test
inmates or staff for drug use in 1998.
In June, a fourth of the jails tested
samples from inmates.

Based on personal interviews, 1996.
See page 3 for definition.

About 10% of drug tests conducted on jail inmates in June 1998
showed drug use
 Among jurisdictions that tested for
Samples for drug tests
collected from inmates
during June 1998*
Percent
Number
positive
Total
36,215
10.5%
3,776
7.6
Random only
2,904
13.6
Indication of use only
Random/indication of use 9,190
12.7
Combined methods
20,344
9.6
*Multiple samples may have been collected
from one inmate.

 Local jail jurisdictions with 1,000 or

more inmates collected 48% of the
samples for drug testing in June 1998.
Seven percent of the samples from
these larger jurisdictions were
positive.

drugs, 70% reported loss of privileges
as the usual response to a positive
test. Over half said that they take
away good time.
 Nearly 5 in 10 jurisdictions that test

staff reported dismissal from employment as the only action taken when
staff test positive for drug use.
 On June 30, 1998, about 92,600 jail
inmates had participated in drug and
alcohol programs or substance abuse
treatment, including inmates who may
have been enrolled in more than one
program.

Jails are correctional facilities operated
by cities, counties, or other local
authorities. Jail inmates are persons
usually sentenced to a short term
(generally under a year) but may
include any detention status, such as
sentenced to more than a year to be
served in jail, held for State prisons
due to overcrowding, awaiting trial or
sentencing, or not yet arraigned.
Data on drug testing and treatment in
local jail jurisdictions are from the 1998
Annual Survey of Jails. A special
addendum on drug testing, sanctions,
and interventions was included with the
standard survey questions on supervised population and inmate counts
and movements. A representative
sample of 820 jail jurisdictions out of
2,890 provided information on policies
for conducting drug tests on inmates
and staff, criteria for selection for
testing, number of positive tests for
inmates, sanctions for positive test
results, and substance abuse
programs or treatment. (See Methodology for sample description.)

55% of convicted jail inmates were using drugs in the month
before the offense; 36% at the time of the offense
 A quarter of jail inmates had a current charge or conviction

for drug law violations. About 15% had a charge or conviction for drug
possession and 9% for trafficking.
 30% of convicted jail inmates had been previously sentenced or
incarcerated for drug possession, trafficking, or other drug offenses,
compared to 21% of unconvicted jail inmates.
 About 82% of all inmates said they had ever used drugs at least once
and 64% said they had used drugs regularly (that is, at least once a week
for at least a month).
 18% of convicted jail inmates said they had used intravenous drugs

in the past, compared to 15% of unconvicted inmates.
 Nearly 1 in 6 of convicted jail inmates committed their offense
to get money for drugs.

Other findings in this report are based
on data from the Survey of Inmates in
Local Jails, 1996. Over 6,100 inmates
from 431 jails in personal interviews
answered a series of questions on their
current and past offense history, drug
and alcohol use and treatment, family
background, and conditions of confinement. (Data on these topics with
comparison to surveys conducted in
1989 and 1983 are available in Profile
of Jail Inmates, 1996, NCJ 164620).
BJS surveys and special collections
provide a national perspective on the
prevalence of drug use and drug
crimes among local jail inmates. (See
adjacent box.) In 1996, 82% of all jail
inmates said they had used drugs at
least once in their life. Among
convicted jail inmates, 55% said they
had used illegal drugs in the month
before the offense. A quarter of jail
inmates had a current drug offense,
and over a quarter had a prior conviction for drug law violations.

2 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

Drug involvement of jail inmates, 1996

Current drug offensesa
Possession
Trafficking

Percent of jail inmates
All
Convicted Unconvicted
25.6%
28.4%
22.1%
14.6
16.6
11.9
9.3
9.7
9.0

Prior sentence for drug offensesb

26.6%

29.6%

21.4%

Prior drug use
Ever used drugs
Ever used regularlyc
Intravenous drug use
Used in the month before the offense
Used at time of the offense

82.4%
64.2
17.0
/

79.0%
59.8
14.5
/

/

84.5%
67.2
18.3
55.0
35.6

/

15.8%

Committed offense to get money for drugs

/
/

Note: Based on the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996. Of the estimated
507,026 jail inmates in 1996, 62.7% were convicted on their current offense
or serving a sentence for a prior offense; 33.4% were unconvicted, awaiting trial,
on trial, or not yet arraigned; and 3.9% had an unknown conviction status.
/Not reported.
a
Excludes inmates for whom the offense was unknown.
b
Excludes inmates for whom the offense of a prior probation
or incarceration was unknown.
c
Used drugs at least once a week for at least a month.

In recent years drug testing and treatment have increasingly become the
focus of efforts to detect and control
drug use in jails. In assessing who
should be tested and treated for drug
use, jurisdictions may consider past
drug involvement or active drug
involvement prior to the current
admission.
Jail inmates reported high levels of
drug involvement
On specific measures of reported past
drug involvement, 64% of jail inmates
had used drugs regularly, 42% had
received treatment, 17% had used
intravenous drugs, and 27% had a
prior sentence for drug law violations.
In combination, 74% of all jail inmates
reported some past involvement with
drugs.

Assessing the need for testing and treatment in jails

Past drug involvement of all inmates
Includes persons who 
 regularly used drugs in the past
 received drug treatment in the past
 may not currently use drugs regularly
 used intravenous drugs
 were sentenced for past drug offenses

73.7%

Active drug involvement prior to current
admission of convicted inmates
Includes persons who 
 used drugs in month before the offense
 used drugs at the time of the offense
 committed the offense for money for drugs
 were sentenced for a current drug offense
 had received treatment since admission

65.5%

Type of drugs used by convicted jail inmates, 1996
Used drugs 
In month
At time of
before offense
the offense
Any

In the 1996 inmate survey only convicted jail inmates were asked about
the level of drug use immediately prior
to the current offense. An estimated
66% of convicted jail inmates reported
active involvement with drugs. For this
report, active drug involvement is
defined as those who had used drugs
in the month before the offense (55%)
or at the time of the offense (36%),
committed the offense for money for
drugs (16%), had received treatment
since admission (13%), or had a
current drug charge (26%).
Nearly a third of convicted jail inmates
who had been involved with drugs in
the past were not using drugs in the
month before the offense. Among
convicted inmates about 37% said they
were using marijuana or hashish a
month before their offense, and 24%
said they were using cocaine or crack
cocaine.
Actively drug-involved jail inmates
younger and more likely to be black
than other inmates
The proportions of actively druginvolved jail inmates varied across
gender, racial or ethnic groups, and
age categories. Males made up the

Percent of
inmates

Drug use of jail inmates, 1996

55.0%

35.6%

Marijuana or hashish
36.8%
18.5%
Cocaine or crack
24.1
15.2
Heroin or opiates
8.8
5.6
a
Depressants
5.9
2.4
Stimulantsb
10.4
6.1
Hallucinogensc
4.6
1.6
0.3
Inhalants
1.0
Note: Details may add to more than total because inmates
may have used more than one drug.
a
Depressants include barbiturates, tranquilizers, and Quaalude.
b
Stimulants include amphetamine and methamphetamine.
c
Hallucinogens include LSD and PCP.

Selected characteristics of convicted jail inmates, 1996
Percent of convicted
jail inmates
Active drug
Other
involvement
Gender
Male
Female

89.0%
11.0

91.3%
8.7

Race/Hispanic origin
White non-Hispanic
Black non-Hispanic
Hispanic
Other*

38.2%
41.2
17.9
2.7

42.3%
34.5
19.2
4.0

Age
17 or younger
18-24
25-29
30-34
35-44
45-54
55 or older

1.3%
29.0
20.3
20.2
24.6
4.2
0.4

1.4%
25.9
18.2
17.4
24.4
9.2
3.4

*Other includes Asians, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific
Islanders, American Indians, and Alaska Natives.

Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails 3

majority of both actively drug-involved
and other inmates. However, women
were a larger percentage of actively
drug-involved inmates (11%) than of
other inmates (9%).
Black or African American inmates
were 41% of actively drug-involved
inmates, compared to 35% of other
inmates. Nearly equal percentages of
actively drug-involved (18%) and other
inmates (19%) were Hispanic.
About 65% of actively drug-involved
inmates were between ages 25 and 44,
compared to 60% of other inmates.
Inmates between 18 and 24 were 29%
of actively drug-involved inmates and
26% of other inmates.
Jails emphasized testing to control
drug use
In response to the inmates’ high levels
of drug involvement, many jail jurisdictions have established drug testing
policies to help control drug use in their
facilities. In 1998 about 7 in 10 jail jurisdictions reported that they had a policy
to conduct urinalysis or other tests,
such as blood, hair, and saliva
analysis, to determine drug use by
inmates or staff (table 1). (For details
on drug testing methods and procedures, see Integrating Drug Testing
into a Pretrial Service System: 1999
Update, Bureau of Justice Assistance,
NCJ 176340.)
Small jurisdictions (with fewer than 50
inmates) were less likely than jurisdictions with 1,000 inmates or more to
have a policy to conduct tests for
drugs. Six in ten small jurisdictions
said they tested inmates or staff for
drugs, compared to 8 in 10 large jurisdictions. The size of jail jurisdiction is
based on the average daily population
for the 12 months ending June 30,
1998, and reported in the Annual
Survey of Jails.
Over a fifth of the jurisdictions said they
tested inmates only, while nearly a
quarter tested staff only. A quarter
said they tested both inmates and staff.

Table 1. Jail jurisdictions reporting drug testing policies,
by size of jurisdiction, 1998

Size of jurisdiction*
Total

Percent of jurisdictions
with testing policies
Number of Inmates
Inmates
jurisdictions or staff
2,890
71.1%
46.9%

Staff
49.2%

Fewer than 50 inmates
1,462
61.1%
37.5%
38.3%
50-99
519
80.4
57.7
51.4
100-249
473
79.0
50.3
61.0
250-499
188
86.1
65.9
67.5
500-999
125
87.0
62.6
73.2
1,000 or more
123
82.0
56.6
70.5
*Based on the average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.
See Methodology for definition of average daily population.

Table 2. Criteria for selecting jail inmates for drug tests,
by size of jurisdiction, 1998

Size of jurisdiction*
Total

Percent of jurisdictions with testing policies
Indication
All at
Other
Random
of use
admissions
48.9%
68.8%
4.7%
30.1%

Fewer than 50 inmates
40.0%
74.0%
1.8%
19.0%
50-99
43.3
57.3
6.0
39.7
100-249
59.7
66.4
4.6
35.7
250-499
66.1
69.4
8.1
33.9
500-999
62.3
81.8
11.7
37.7
1,000 or more
59.4
71.0
10.1
42.0
Note: Jurisdictions may use multiple methods to test for drugs.
*Based on the average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

Half of all inmates were in jails that
tested for drug use
Relative to the average daily
population, nearly 54% of all inmates
(an estimated 318,100 jail inmates)
were in jails that tested for illegal drug
use. Four percent of the inmates
subject to drug testing policies were in
small jurisdictions, although these jurisdictions represented 40% of those with
a policy to test inmates for drugs.

Size of
jurisdiction*
Total

Jail inmates in
jurisdictions that
test for drugs
All jail
inmates
Number Percent
593,808 318,110 53.6%

Fewer than 50
inmates
31,088 12,907 41.5%
50-99
35,289 19,862 56.3
100-249
73,421 37,419 50.1
250-499
64,063 42,511 66.4
500-999
87,731 55,208 62.9
1,000 or more
302,216 150,204 49.7
*Based on the average daily population
between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

4 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

In contrast, the largest jurisdictions
(with 1,000 inmates or more) represented 5% of jurisdictions that tested
inmates and held 47% of inmates
subject to drug testing.
69% of jurisdictions test inmates
mainly on indication of use
Jurisdictions use a variety of methods
to select inmates for drug testing. All
inmates in some facilities may be
tested upon entry for the first time;
inmates in other facilities may be
selected at random after a set length
of stay or at unpredictable times or
may be tested upon indication of use
of an illegal drug. Some jurisdictions
also test all inmates upon reentry into a
facility after an absence for activities
such as a work release, furlough, or
court visit.

The percentage of tests found positive
for drug use varied by testing policy.
Samples that were selected on indication of use only had the highest rate of
positive results (14%), followed by both
random or indication of use (13%).
Within jurisdictions that tested only
randomly, 8% of samples were positive
for drugs.

Table 3. Number of samples collected in jails from June 1 to June 30, 1998,
and the percent positive for one or more drugs

Size of jurisdiction*
Total
Fewer than 50 inmates
50-99
100-249
250-499
500-999
1,000 or more

Jail jurisdictions testing for drugs
Percent with at least
Number one positive test
712
68.8%
229
141
146
85
59
53

62.5%
65.3
65.5
77.7
84.8
81.1

Samples collected
Percent
Number positive
36,215
10.5%
1,328
2,149
4,855
4,680
5,983
17,218

28.1%
20.9
12.3
8.8
11.4
7.4

Criteria for testing
Random only
Indication of use only
Random/indication of use
Other combined methods

Note: Excludes jurisdictions that did not collect samples during June 1998.
Multiple samples may have been collected from one inmate.
*Based on the average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

In 1998 over two-thirds of the jurisdictions selected inmates for testing on
indication of use; about half selected
inmates at random; and 5% had a
policy to test all inmates at admission
(table 2).

Over two-thirds of the jails that
tested inmates had at least one
positive test

Samples collected
Percent
Number positive
3,776
7.6%
2,904
13.6
9,190
12.7
20,344
9.6

Most jurisdictions take away inmate
privileges for a positive test result

Of the jail jurisdictions that had a policy
to conduct urinalysis or other tests on
inmates for drug use, 712 jurisdictions
collected over 36,200 samples from
Jurisdictions that specified other criteinmates between June 1 and June 30,
ria for selecting inmates for testing
1998 (table 3). Multiple samples may
(30%) generally reported that they
systematically tested all offenders who have been taken from one inmate.
returned to the facility from a temporary Jurisdictions with fewer than 50
inmates collected 4% of the samples;
absence from custody. They also
however, they comprised about a third
tested inmates when requested or
of the jurisdictions that tested samples
required by another agency, such as
for drugs. About half of the samples
the courts, probation or parole departwere collected in jurisdictions with
ments, or medical services.
1,000 inmates or more.
Nearly 60% of jurisdictions with 100 or
more inmates said they tested inmates 10% of tests conducted in June 1998
randomly, compared to 40% of jurisdic- were positive for one or more drugs
tions with fewer than 100 inmates.
Seven in ten of both small jurisdictions Ten percent of the samples overall
(3,800) were positive for one or more
and those with 1,000 or more inmates
drugs. Over two-thirds of jurisdictions
reported that they tested on indication
that tested inmates had at least one
of use. About 2% of the jurisdictions
positive test, while the rate of positive
with fewer than 50 inmates, compared
tests in jurisdictions with 1,000 inmates
to 10% of those with 1,000 or more
inmates, reported testing all inmates at or more (7%) was lower than that for
jurisdictions with fewer than 50 inmates
admission.
(28%).

Among the legal and administrative
sanctions that may be imposed when
inmates test positive for drugs, 70% of
the jurisdictions reported that they
usually take away inmates privileges,
while about half said they take away
good time or reclassify the offender to
a higher security level (table 4).
Twenty percent of the jurisdictions
reported that they add time to the
inmate sentence for a positive test
result, compared to 39% that charge
the offender with a new offense.
Around a quarter of all jurisdictions
said they increase drug testing after a
positive test.
Table 4. Sanctions imposed by
jurisdictions after inmates test
positive for drugs, 1998
Type of sanctions
Legal sanctions
Charge with offense
Add time to sentence

Percent of
jurisdictions
39.3%
20.3

Administrative sanctions
Loss of good time
Loss of privileges
Reclassify security level
Separation
Increased testing
Mandatory treatment

52.2%
69.9
48.9
30.0
25.4
8.0

Other sanctions

19.9%

Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails 5

Jail inmates were more likely to be
reclassified to a higher security level
in large jail jurisdictions after a positive
test for drugs. About 7 in 10 jurisdictions with 1,000 or more inmates
reclassified offenders, compared to
almost 2 in 6 jurisdictions with fewer
than 50 inmates.
Type of sanctions
Reclassify
Mandatory
security
Separation treatment
level

with 500 to 999 inmates. Seven
percent of jurisdictions with fewer than
50 inmates mandated treatment. About
19% of small jurisdictions reported that
they separate inmates from the general
population after a positive test,
compared to 52% of large jurisdictions.
70% of jail jurisdictions tested all
staff; 20%, new employees only

Size of
jurisdiction*
Fewer than 50
inmates
34.9%
18.5%
6.9%
50-99
45.7
25.3
6.3
100-249
67.6
42.9
10.1
250-499
59.7
43.5
4.0
500-999
66.7
48.1
9.1
1,000 or more
71.0
52.2
21.7
*Based on the average daily population between
July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

Drug testing policies to detect and
control drug use in jails also include jail
employees. About 49% of jurisdictions
said they tested staff, and 47% test
inmates. Among the 1,418 jail jurisdictions that had a policy to test staff, 70%
said that all staff were subject to testing

Across all jurisdictions, only a small
percentage said that they imposed
mandatory treatment for a positive test.
About 22% of larger jurisdictions
imposed mandatory treatment for
inmates who tested positive for drugs,
followed by 10% of jurisdictions with
100 to 249 inmates, and 9% of those

Size of
jurisdiction

Inmates

Total

46.9%

49.2%

Fewer than
50 inmates
50-99
100-249
250-499
500-999
1,000 or more

37.5%
57.7
50.3
65.9
62.6
56.6

38.3%
51.4
61.0
67.5
73.2
70.5

Percent of jurisdictions
with testing policies
Staff

Total
Fewer than 50 inmates
50-99
100-249
250-499
500-999
1,000 or more

Percent of jurisdictions that test staff
All at least
Indication
once a year
Other
Random
of use
63.1%

39.9%

9.0%

24.0%

72.5%
50.4
64.2
59.8
50.0
55.8

36.6%
31.8
40.6
48.0
51.1
60.5

9.5%
12.7
9.4
7.9
1.1
3.5

16.3%
31.1
24.0
25.8
34.4
39.5

Jail jurisdictions were similar to other
employers with regard to testing staff
for illegal drug use. In general, employers nationwide have implemented
workplace drug testing programs to
comply with Federal regulations or
insurance requirements, to protect the
organization from safety problems and
costs associated with illegal drug use
on the job, or for a variety of other
reasons.
In the 1997 National Household Survey
on Drug Abuse, 49% of employees
who were working 35 hours or more a
week at the time of the interview said
their workplace had a drug testing
program.* The survey also included
prevalence estimates of drug testing in
the workplace by the number of
employees at an establishment. About
74% of employees at large establishments (500 or more employees) said
their workplace had at least one type of
workplace drug testing program,
compared to slightly more than 28% for
small establishments (24 or fewer
employees).

Table 5. Criteria for testing jail staff for drugs, by size of jurisdiction, 1998

Size of jurisdiction*

for illegal drug use, including supervisors, administrative staff, corrections
officers, and program or treatment
personnel. A fifth of the jurisdictions
tested only prospective employees as
a condition of employment, and 1%
tested corrections officers only. Around
7 in 10 large jurisdictions had a policy
to test staff, compared to 4 in 10 small
jurisdictions.

*See, SAMHSA, The National Household Survey
on Drug Abuse, Workplace Drug Testing
Programs, 1997, http://www.samhsa/gov/oas/
NHSDA/A-11/WrkplcPlcy2-06.htm

Note: Excludes jurisdictions that did not test staff. Jurisdictions may use one or more criteria.
*Based on the average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

Table 6. Sanctions imposed on jail staff after a positive test for drug use, by size of jurisdiction, 1998
Percent of jurisdictions that test staff, by size of jurisdiction*
Sanctions
Dismissal
Temporary suspension
Continued employment with 
Referral to internal affairs or police
Referral to treatment
Increased urinalysis surveillance
Restrictions on inmate contact
Other actions

Total

Fewer than
50 inmates

50-99

100-249

250-499

500-999

1,000
or more

70.7%
19.9

72.2%
22.3

65.2%
6.7

72.2%
21.5

66.9%
23.4

71.1%
27.8

77.9%
26.7

28.8%
29.1
10.9
3.8
8.4

19.6%
28.4
11.8
3.4
5.2

24.3%
18.7
0.4
2.6
11.2

35.8%
30.9
11.1
3.5
7.3

37.5%
34.6
15.0
5.5
17.2

37.8%
38.9
16.9
6.7
7.8

57.0%
40.7
24.4
5.8
11.6

Note: Excludes jurisdictions that did not test staff. Jurisdictions may impose multiple sanctions on staff.
*Based on average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.

6 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

Most jail employees are tested at
random
About 63% of jail jurisdictions reported
that they tested staff at random,
followed by 40% that tested on indication of use (table 5). Nearly threequarters of jurisdictions holding fewer
than 50 inmates said that staff were
selected at random for drug testing,
compared to over half of jurisdictions
with 1,000 or more inmates. Small
jurisdictions were less likely to select
staff on indication of use (37%) than
large jurisdictions (61%).
Around 45% of jurisdictions said that
they used a combination of criteria to
select staff for testing. About 41%
selected staff at random only, and 15%
selected on indication of use only.
In 7 in 10 jail jurisdictions a positive
test was grounds for dismissal
Jurisdictions usually fired staff or did
not hire prospective employees after a
positive result on a test for drugs.
About 71% percent overall reported
that dismissal was the usual action

taken after a positive test result.
Nearly half (49%) of the jurisdictions
used dismissal as the only disciplinary
action for an employee who tested
positive for drugs.
In establishing policies to test staff or
inmates for drugs, jurisdictions have
adopted rules and procedures to
ensure that disciplinary actions are not
imposed for false positive test results
or for legitimate reasons such as overthe-counter or prescription medications that can cause a positive test.
Drug testing procedures generally
include chain of custody documentation, a confirmation test after the initial
positive test, drug cut-off levels for
positive or negative results, and a
medical review to certify that testing
procedures were followed. During the
review and confirmation process,
sanctions may be imposed while an
employee continues working.
Among the sanctions that permitted jail
staff to continue working after a
positive test for drugs, about 4% of
jurisdictions said they allowed staff to

continue to work with restrictions on
contact with inmates. An equal
percentage (29%) said they referred
staff either to internal affairs or the
police or to substance abuse treatment
(table 6). About 11% increased drug
testing of staff after a positive test.
Over half of the jurisdictions with 1,000
or more inmates said they referred
employees to internal affairs or police
after a positive test for drugs, compared to nearly a fifth of small jurisdictions. About 3 in 8 jurisdictions in each
category between 100 and 999
inmates said they referred staff for
legal actions after a positive drug test.
Across all jurisdictions, a larger
percentage said they referred staff to
treatment after a positive test than
required mandatory treatment for
inmates. About 41% of large jurisdictions and 28% of small jurisdictions
referred staff to treatment. Except jurisdictions with 1,000 inmates or more,
around 10% or less in each size
category mandated treatment for
inmates.

Table 7. Substance abuse treatment or programs in local jails, by size of jurisdiction, 1998

Type of treatment

Percent of jurisdictions with treatment or programs by size of jurisdiction*
Fewer than
1,000 or
Total
50 inmates
50-99
100-249 250-499 500-999
more

Any treatment or program

72.8%

63.2%

75.0%

83.9%

91.0%

91.9%

90.2%

Substance abuse treatmenta
Detoxification

42.8%
32.1

33.5%
26.0

38.7%
26.2

53.3%
39.7

62.2%
48.1

70.2%
51.2

73.8%
56.6

Other programsb
Education or awareness
Self-help programs

67.5%
29.6
63.7

57.3%
20.2
52.1

70.1%
30.0
67.8

77.0%
32.0
73.5

87.8%
46.8
86.2

88.0%
61.8
87.8

89.4%
72.1
88.5

Note: Jurisdictions may have more than one program.
*Based on the average daily population between July 1, 1997, and June 30, 1998.
a
Includes residential facilities, detoxification units, professional group or individual
counseling, rehabilitation, and maintenance drug programs.
b
Includes drug or alcohol education or awareness programs, self-help groups, such
as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and other peer counseling groups.

Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails 7

Self-help programs like Alcoholics
Anonymous or Narcotics
Anonymous common in jails
Although jurisdictions were unlikely to
mandate treatment for inmates after a
positive drug test, almost threequarters provided substance abuse
treatment or other programs for their
inmates (table 7). Substance abuse
treatment includes detoxification,
professional counseling, a residential
stay, or maintenance drug programs.
Other programs include Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and other self-help groups,
and drug or alcohol education or
awareness.
About 43% of jurisdictions provided
substance abuse treatment, while 68%
provided other programs. Within the
specific types of substance abuse
programs provided in jails, self-help
groups (such as AA, NA, and other
peer group counseling) were the most
common (64%). About 30% had
education or awareness programs.

Table 8. Substance abuse treatment history of jail inmates,
by reported prior drug use, 1996
All jail inmates
Type of treatment
Any treatment or programb

Ever used
51.4%

Participated while under
correctional supervision

35.1%

38.7%

43.7%

46.6%

In prison/jail
On probation/parole

25.2
23.4

28.4
26.2

31.7
30.3

34.3
32.8

Participated since admission

12.5%

14.0%

16.9%

19.0%

3.9
0.9
1.9
1.4

4.7
1.0
2.3
1.7

5.5
1.0
3.0
2.2

6.9
1.4
3.9
2.5

10.8%
9.3
3.8

12.0%
10.4
4.5

14.6%
12.5
5.5

16.0%
13.7
6.5

Any treatmentc
Detoxification
Special facility
Counseling
Other programsd
Self-help
Education or awareness

Note: Details add to more than total because inmates may have
participated in more than one type of program.
a
Regularly is defined as once a week for at least a month.
b
Includes alcohol or drug treatment or programs.
c
Includes detoxification units, professional group or individual
counseling, rehabilitation, and maintenance drug programs.
d
Includes drug or alcohol education or awareness programs,
self-help programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and
Narcotics Anonymous, and other peer counseling groups.

Large jails had three-quarters of the
Overall, 12% of jail jurisdictions
total capacity for substance abuse
provided all types of programs and
treatment
treatment, and about 22% had only AA,
NA, or other self-help programs.
In the Annual Survey of Jails, jurisdictions were asked to report the capacity
Smaller jurisdictions were less likely to for substance abuse treatment, includhave substance abuse treatment or
ing detoxification, professional counselprograms than larger jurisdictions.
ing, rehabilitation, and maintenance
About 63% of jurisdictions with fewer
drug programs. About 10% or 282
than 50 inmates had some type of
jurisdictions reported that they had the
treatment or program. About 26% of
capacity to provide substance abuse
jurisdictions with fewer than 50 inmates treatment. Nearly three-quarters of the
and of those with 50 to 99 inmates had reported capacity was in jurisdictions
a detoxification unit. These jurisdicwith 500 or more inmates.
tions primarily had self-help groups,
52% and 68%, respectively.
92,600 inmates participated in drug
About 90% of jurisdictions that held
250 or more inmates provided some
type of treatment or program. Over
half of large jurisdictions had a detoxification unit. Seven in ten jurisdictions
with 1,000 or more inmates provided
education or awareness, and 8 in 10
provided self-help groups.

Ever used
regularlya
55.7%

Convicted jail inmates used
In month
At time
before
of
offense
offense
58.3%
61.4%

or alcohol programs or treatment
As of June 30, 1998, an estimated
92,600 inmates had participated in
substance abuse treatment or
programs. This included 42,100 in AA,
NA, or other self-help groups, 27,000
in drug or alcohol education or

8 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

awareness, 2,100 in detoxification, and
21,400 in other substance abuse treatment. Inmates may have been in more
than one program.
61% of inmates who had used drugs
at the time of the offense had
received treatment in the past
Based on self-reported information in
the jail inmates survey, over half of jail
inmates who said they had ever used
drugs and those who used regularly
had participated in substance abuse
treatment or programs in the past
(table 8). Among convicted inmates
58% of those who had used drugs in
the month before the offense and 61%
of those who had used drugs at the
time of the offense had participated in
substance abuse treatment or
programs.

Overall, an estimated 10% of jail
inmates said they had participated in
substance abuse treatment or
programs since their admission to jail.
Of jail inmates who had ever used
drugs or had ever used them regularly,
13% and 14%, respectively, had
participated in substance abuse treatment or programs since admission.
About 17% of inmates who had used in
the month before the offense had
participated since admission. Around
19% of jail inmates who had used
drugs at the time of the offense had
participated in substance abuse treatment or programs.
Self-help programs were the most
common activity since admission
(around 13%) for each category of
convicted jail inmates. Among all jail
inmates who had ever used drugs or
used regularly, 10% or fewer had
participated in self-help programs.
A small percentage of jail inmates who
had ever used drugs or used regularly
(4%) had received substance abuse
treatment since admission. Around 7%
of convicted jail inmates who were
using drugs at the time of the offense
and 6% who had used drugs in the
month before the offense had participated in substance abuse treatment.
Among convicted jail inmates who
were actively involved with drugs prior
to their admission to jail, 20% had
participated in substance abuse treatment or programs since admission.

Criminal history profile of actively drug-involved jail inmates
72% of convicted jail inmates who had an active involvement
in drugs were on criminal justice status at arrest
Percent of convicted
jail inmates
Active drug
involvementa Other
Status at arrest
None
Status
On paroleb
On probation
Pretrial
Bail/bond
Escape

27.8%
71.8
19.3
44.1
4.7
15.1
1.4

41.2%
58.1
10.9
39.6
5.1
11.6
0.6

Criminal history
None
Priors
Violent recidivists
Drug recidivists only

19.5%
80.5
35.2
12.7

27.9%
72.1
35.5
0.0

Number of prior sentences
to probation or incarceration
0
13.3%
1
19.9
2
12.4
3-5
23.1
6-10
18.9
11 or more
12.4

18.3%
23.9
14.7
20.9
16.0
6.2

Location to serve
current sentence
Prison
Jail
Median maximum
sentence
Prison
Jail

20.9%
57.6

15.1%
69.1

About 20% of actively drug-

involved offenders were on parole;
44% were on probation prior to
their current admission to jail.
 8 in 10 actively drug-involved
offenders had a prior offense
or sentence to incarceration,
compared to 7 in 10 other
offenders.
 Over a third of actively drug-

involved jail inmates had been
convicted of a violent crime in the
past, while about 13% had only
prior drug sentences.
 Over half of drug-involved jail

inmates had served three or
more sentences to probation
or incarceration.
 21% of actively drug-involved
offenders were sentenced to
served time in prison, compared
to 15% of other offenders.
 Actively drug-involved offenders

60mos.
11

60mos.
6

Note: Based on self-reported data in the Survey
of Inmates in Local Jails, 1996. Data on
convicted jail inmates only.
a
Includes jail inmates who used drugs in the
month before the offense, had a current drug
offense, committed the offense for money for
drugs, or had received treatment since
admission to jail.
b
Includes mandatory supervised release.

who were sentenced to jail had a
median sentence of 11 months,
compared to 6 months for other
offenders.

Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails 9

Methodology
Survey of Inmates in Local Jails
The 1996 Survey of Inmates in Local
Jails was conducted from October
1995 through March 1996 in personal
interviews with 6,133 inmates. Similar
surveys of jail inmates were conducted
in 1972, 1978, 1983, and 1989.
The sample for the 1996 survey design
was a stratified two-stage selection
from a universe of 3,328 jails. In the
first stage, six separate strata were
formed based on the size of the male
and female populations. In two strata
all jails were selected – those jails
housing only females and those with
more than 1,000 males or more than
50 females or both.
In the remaining four strata, each jail
within a stratum had an equal probability of selection in the sample. Overall,
462 jails were selected. Interviews
were conducted in 431 jails; 19
refused, 8 were closed, and 4 were on
the universe list in error.

In the second sampling stage, interviewers visited each selected facility
and systematically selected a sample
of male and female inmates using
predetermined procedures. Approximately 1 in every 100 males were
selected in 4 strata, and 1 in 83
in the male stratum. Depending
on the stratum, 1 in 50, 25, 24, or 21
females were selected.
Estimates from the 1996 Survey of
Inmates in Local Jails are affected by
sampling and measurement errors.
Sampling error may occur by chance
because a sample rather than a
complete enumeration of the population was conducted. Measurement
error can be attributed to nonresponse,
differences in the interpretation of
questions among inmates, recall difficulties, and processing errors. In any
survey the full extent of the measurement error is never known.
Estimates of the standard errors for
jail inmates identified as drug-involved
have been calculated for the 1996
survey of jail inmates (see appendix

Appendix table 1. Standard error estimation for measures of
drug involvement of jail inmates, 1996

Standard errors for estimated percentages
All jail
inmates
Convicted
Unconvicted
Current drug offense
Possession
Trafficking

0.54%
0.45

0.72%
0.55

0.86%
0.81

Prior drug offense

0.71%

0.89%

1.13%

Prior drug use
Ever used drugs
Ever used regularly
Intravenous drug use
Used in the month before
Used at the time of the offense

0.59%
0.74
0.60
...
...

0.71%
0.90
0.77
0.95
0.89

1.06%
1.32
0.95
...
...

...

0.70%

...

Committed offense to get
money for drugs
...Not applicable.

tables 1 and 2). These standard errors
may be used to construct confidence
intervals around percentages. For
example, the 95% confidence interval
around the percentage of convicted jail
inmates who had active involvement
with drugs is approximately 65.5%
plus or minus 1.96 times 0.90% (or
63.7% to 67.3%).
Percent
of jail
inmates
Drug-involved in past
73.7
Actively drug-involved*
65.5
*Convicted inmates only.

Appendix table 2. Standard errors
for selected characteristics of druginvolved jail inmates, 1996

Selected
characteristics

Standard errors for
estimated percentages
Active drug
involvement Other

Male/female

0.47%

0.50%

Race/Hispanic origin
White non-Hispanic
Black non-Hispanic
Hispanic
Other

1.56%
1.52
1.01
0.42

2.02%
1.96
1.39
0.79

Age
17 or younger
18-24
25-29
30-34
35-44
45-54
55 or older

0.30%
1.05
0.88
0.93
1.00
0.45
0.13

0.41%
1.43
1.21
1.17
1.36
0.94
0.58

Status at arrest
None
On parole
On probation
Pretrial
Bail/bond
Escape

1.07%
0.96
1.23
0.47
0.84
0.26

1.57%
0.99
1.60
0.74
0.99
0.24

Criminal history
None
Priors
Violent recidivists
Drug recidivists only

0.94%
1.16
1.19
0.45

1.41%
1.55
1.69
...

Number of prior
sentences to probation
or incarceration
0
1
2
3-5
6-10
11 or more

0.79%
0.94
0.73
1.00
0.94
0.74

1.21%
1.38
1.18
1.21
1.21
0.77

...Not applicable.

10 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

Standard
error
0.68%
0.90

These standard errors may also be
used to test the statistical significance
of the difference between two sample
statistics by pooling the standard
errors of the two sample estimates.
For example, the standard error of the
difference between actively druginvolved inmates on criminal justice
status and other inmates would be
1.90% (or the square root of the sum
of the squared standard errors for
each group). The difference would
be 1.96 times 1.90 (or 3.72%). Since
the observed difference of 13.7% (71.8
minus 58.1%) is greater than 3.72%,
the difference would be considered
statistically significant.
Annual Survey of Jails (ASJ)
Since 1982 the Annual Survey of Jails
has provided baseline data to estimate
characteristics of the Nation's jails and
jail inmates. The reference date for the
1998 survey was June 30. A representative sample of jails was based on

information from the 1993 Census of
jails. The sample included jails in 795
jail jurisdictions and 25 multi-jurisdiction
jails.
A jurisdiction is a county (parish in
Louisiana) or municipal government
that administers one or more local jails.
A multi-jurisdiction jail is one in which
two or more jurisdictions have a formal
agreement to operate the facility.
All of the multi-jurisdiction jails were
included in the survey. The remaining
jurisdictions were stratified into two
groups: jurisdictions with jails authorized to hold juveniles and jurisdictions
with jails holding adults only. All jails in
204 jurisdictions were included in the
survey if in 1993 the jurisdiction held
juveniles and had an average daily
population of 250 or more inmates, or if
it held only adults and had an average
daily population of 500 or more. The

other jurisdictions (591) were selected
based on stratified probability
sampling. The average daily population is the sum of the number of
inmates in jail each day for a year,
divided by the number of days in the
year.
Data were obtained by mailed
questionnaires. After followup
telephone calls to nonrespondents, the
response rate for the survey was
100%.
Estimates based on data from the
Annual Survey of Jails have associated
sampling errors. The estimated
relative sampling error for the number
of jurisdictions that had a policy to test
inmates on June 30, 1998, was 2.23%
and for staff 2.22% (see appendix
table 3).

Appendix table 3. Standard error estimation for measures of drug testing and
treatment in jail jurisdictions, 1998
Standard errors for estimated percentages
Percent of
jurisdictions testing
Size of jurisdiction
Total
Fewer than 50 inmates
50-99
100-249
250-499
500-999
1,000 or more

Inmates

Staff

Method of testing inmates
On indication All at
of use
admission
Random

Method of testing staff
All at least
On indication
once a year
Random
of use

2.23%

2.22%

1.73%

2.07%

0.44%

2.85%

2.88%

1.90%

3.69%
5.46
3.83
2.33
1.19
4.20

3.70%
5.45
3.68
2.63
1.56
5.23

2.73%
4.64
3.48
2.66
1.41
2.49

3.41%
5.28
3.51
2.53
1.36
2.99

0.61%
1.67
0.51
0.53
0.45
0.43

5.44%
7.80
4.60
2.79
1.23
0.20

5.86%
7.24
4.79
2.82
1.20
0.18

3.52%
5.62
3.33
1.35
0.03
0.02

Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails 11

The Bureau of Justice Statistics
is the statistical agency of the
U.S. Department of Justice.
Jan M. Chaiken, Ph.D., is director.
BJS Special Reports address a
specific topic in depth from one or
more datasets that cover many topics.
This Special Report presents the
findings from 1998 Annual Survey of
Jails with a special addendum on
drug testing and treatment.

review. Tom Hester edited the report.
Jayne Robinson administered final
production.
Data collection and processing for the
Annual Survey of Jails were carried
out by Lisa McNelis, with assistance
from Henrietta Herrin, Martha Greene,
and Duane Cavenaugh, under the
supervision of Stephanie Brown,
Governments Division, U.S. Census
Bureau.

Doris James Wilson wrote this report
under the supervision of Allen J. Beck.
Paula M. Ditton provided statistical
May 2000, NCJ 179999

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Washington, DC 20531

Official Business
Penalty for Private Use $300

12 Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails

The primary sources of data for
tables presented in this report are
the Annual Survey of Jails, 1998,
and the Survey of Inmates in Local
Jails, 1996.
Data can be obtained from the
archive through 1-800-999-0960 or
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/
NACJD/home.html
The archive may also be accessed
through the BJS website, where the
report, data, and supporting documentation are available:
http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/

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