From 1990 to 1998, the number of women behind bars jumped 71 %.
This escalation of incarcerated women was mostly attributed to a surge in the arrest of female drug users.
In 2002, about 61 % of incarcerated women satisfied DSM-IV criteria for drug dependency, versus 54 % of incarcerated men in local jails (Karberg and James 2005).
Minorities, especially blacks and Latinos, are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.
Since the 2000s, nonmedical abuse of prescription opioids has led to an upsurge in number of arrests.
A nationwide survey from years 2002 to 2004 reported that 30 % of arrestees had used prescription opioids for nonmedical purposes.While only making up about a quarter of the US population, more than 60 % of the US criminal justice population is black or Latino.Conversely, white inmates have been reported as having a relatively higher prevalence of substance (alcohol and/or drug) abuse or dependence (78 %) compared to blacks (64 %) and Hispanics (59 %) (Karberg and James 2005).Effective pharmacotherapy for opioid and alcohol dependence exists in the community; however, access to treatment in the US CJS remains inadequate.Less than 10 % of local jail inmates received treatment (Karberg and James 2005).According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), in 2002, the prevalence of offenders who used drugs more than once a week for at least 1 month prior to incarceration exceeded 60 % (Karberg and James 2005) and approximately 50 % of those incarcerated at the federal, state, and local levels met DSM-IV criteria for drug abuse or dependence.The large burden of drug and alcohol dependence within the US CJS complicates treatment programs since drug and alcohol dependency is highly associated with comorbid psychiatric disorders and chronic infectious diseases.In addition to treatment, strong linkages should be established to ensure continuity of care.Failure to link services for offenders upon release to the community may increase recidivism, relapse to substance abuse, and increase transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and viral hepatitis B and C to the uninfected.The public health implications of SUDs treatment for offenders are numerous.Incarceration provides an opportunity to initiate or continue treatment for drug and alcohol dependency among inmates, whereupon both the individual and the community can be greatly benefited upon release.