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ABUSE PROBLEM REACHES HISTORIC HIGH
Substance abuse among probationers
has reached an all-time high, according to
a review of arraignment statistics compiled
by the Research Department of the Office
of the Commissioner of Probation. Probation
recently assessed substance abuse among probationers
from 1988 to 2006.
Eighty-six percent of offenders
placed on probation supervision in the state’s
District and Superior courts struggle with
substance abuse issues. This figure is a
21 percent increase over the number of probationers
with substance abuse issues in 1988.
“Substance abuse is the
800-pound gorilla that stalks our system.
To change the behavior of probationers, we
have to address the issue of substance abuse” said
Chief Probation Officer Dan Ryan, a specialist
in substance abuse treatment.
Substance abuse jumped from
66 percent in 1990 to 86 percent in 2006
among probationers (Chart
The problem did not improve
in the new millennium. In 2000, 82 percent
of people placed on probation were dependent
on drugs and alcohol and this figure rose
to its highest level, 86 percent, in 2006.
Drug use among people who were
placed on probation jumped from 35 percent
in 1988 to 73 percent in 2006. There was
also a spike in alcohol abuse among probationers,
from 38 percent in 1988 to 59 percent in
2006. While most people do not consider alcohol
a drug, it is in fact a powerful drug.” Ryan
said, “It is a depressant.”
Class D (marijuana) offenses
have consistently been the most commonly
arraigned drug offenses both today and in
1988, according to statistics provided by
Probation’s Research Department. Statistics
show 30 percent of all drug offenses in 2006
were Class D offenses.