"Drug policies here are more punitive and counterproductive than in other democracies, and have brought about an explosion in prison populations
. At the end of 1980, just before I left office, 500,000 people were incarcerated in America; at the end of 2009 the number was nearly 2.3 million. There are 743 people in prison for every 100,000 Americans, a higher portion than in any other country and seven times as great as in Europe. Some 7.2 million people are either in prison or on probation or parole — more than 3 percent of all American adults!
Some of this increase has been caused by mandatory minimum sentencing and “three strikes you’re out” laws. But about three-quarters of new admissions to state prisons are for nonviolent crimes. And the single greatest cause of prison population growth has been the
war on drugs war on peaceful Americans who chose to use intoxicants not currently approved of by the U.S. government (HT: Don B.), with the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses increasing more than twelve-fold since 1980."