Prisons Bulging, Drug Offenders Causing Biggest Increase

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When nearly 3,000 prisoners were locked up in June it was the largest number of new inmates in any single month in Florida in more than a decade.

The bulge in the prison population is being largely driven by a big jump in the number of people being imprisoned for drug crimes, according to state Department of Corrections figures.

While officials search for reasons behind that, some advocates for drug treatment say cuts in spending on treatment programs are at least partly to blame.

State funding for prison drug treatment programs has dropped from $15 million two years ago to about $7.5 million this year.

That could mean some prisoners who need treatment aren't getting it, and then getting out of prison only to commit another drug crime.

Criminologists agree that may be one factor, although they say there are likely a number of things at work, including a downturn in the economy.