A rise in opioid use in mostly white rural counties is changing incarceration demographics: White, rural drug offenders are going to prison for longer periods than their counterparts in urban and suburban areas, the Washington Examiner reported.
Pat Gray and Stu Burguiere took a sobering look at the story this week on “Pat & Stu.”
Black people who broke drug laws in urban areas were disproportionately imprisoned for most of the last century, but that trend seems to be reversing. While drug treatment programs and other bipartisan efforts have reduced the number of inmates in big cities, rural and suburban Americans are now going to prison in larger numbers, a New York Times analysis of the National Corrections Reporting Program found in 2016.
The opioid crisis is falling through the cracks of the news cycle, but it’s a national disaster that is claiming far more lives than more-publicized problems. Drug overdoses likely resulted in more than 59,000 deaths last year, which would be the largest spike in recorded U.S. history. The 2016 number for drug overdose deaths surpasses the peak years for deaths due to guns, HIV and car crashes. In Ohio alone, estimated drug overdose deaths rose by 25 percent; the state is suing five drug companies based on accusations that they fueled the epidemic.
“It’s worse than the crack epidemic by a lot,” Stu said of the opioid crisis fueling drug deaths. “These are not close to each other as far as scale goes.”