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More drug arrests among middle-age whites in California

Though there still seems to be a disproportionate number of young minorities that are arrested for drug charges, we are now also in California seeing more arrests among older white males. This could be in part because crack cocaine and heroin use has decreased which often involves the urban poor. Also, possession of small amount of marijuana no longer draws the type of penalties in our state that it did in the past.

But while research shows changes in the types of individuals that may actually use the drugs, reporting of drug usage still focuses on the belief that the drug problem is confined to the urban poor. The poor may not garner the same sort of reportage or sympathy as would arrests made of upper-class whites.

During the last decades of the prior century, drug arrests for blacks rose dramatically. Though this was true for young blacks, for those over 30 the amount of arrests during the 1990s rose by more than 300 percent. It is only recently that we began seeing increasing rates of drug arrests among older whites as well. This has shown to be especially true in California where deaths due to overdoses for middle ages are much higher than it is for teenagers.

What these studies demonstrate is that drug usage is not a phenomenon of one particular type of community. It affects every economic and cultural stratum.

Attorneys in California are now seeing a movement away from incarceration for drug crimes and more towards referrals to assist individuals caught up in a cycle of addiction. This in the long run will prove to be less costly as our over-crowded prison system has proven, and instead of imprisonment it may ultimately result in people receiving the help they need in dealing with an addiction problem.

Source: Reuters, "The myth of youthful drug offenders," Mike Males, Aug. 19, 2013

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