Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Prison Drug Test Survey

Drug testing of prison inmates has become a standard practice in federal and state institutions, with hundreds of thousands of urinalysis tests conducted over the course of a year; and a significant portion of the tests turn up positive, according to a major study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

Of the 957 state prisons that participated in the BJS survey, 83 percent reported conducting urine tests on prisoners. In community-based facilities where offenders are allowed to come and go, such as work release and pre-release centers, urinalysis is relied on even more heavily for drug enforcement; 98 percent of those facilities reported drug testing of offenders. In addition, all of the 80 federal prisons across the country reported conducting drug tests of prisoners.

Nearly 600,000 urine specimens were collected from 468,000 offenders in the year ending June 30, 1990, BJS reported. In state prisons, 5.8 percent of the tests for marijuana came up positive, as well as 1.4 percent of the test for cocaine, 1.0 percent of the heroin tests, and 2.3 percent of the methamphetamine tests.

More than half of the prisons test inmates randomly, and nearly three-quarters test individual inmates whom they suspect of using drugs. Only 12 percent said they had a policy of systematically testing every prisoner at least once during his term of confinement.

For more information see: "Drug Enforcement and Treatment in Prisons, 1990" (NCJ-134724). This 13-page report is available through the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Box 6000, Rockville, MD 20850.

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login