Different drugs on a table

SD Jails and Meth

San Diego city officials have recently released the findings of the annual study directed at how many individuals who are booked in the local jail system have meth in their system.

The list of participants was not restricted to those who were charged with possession or trafficking in methamphetamine, as defendants arrested for property violations were also included in the sample size. Study participants were required to agree to the survey terms and conditions along with providing a urine sample.

Information was not released regarding what position the court would take if someone tested positive for the drug while not being arrested on drug charges.  Bail eligibility was also not included in the study.  The study also included defendant information regarding use of other drugs as well. Even if the court does not charge a defendant with a possession charge or aggravation enhancement of an impaired driving charge, the court could use the information in assessing bond in some situations. Additional charges can easily increase bond amounts, and if the court has direct access to the survey information bond for other charges could also be increased.

San Diego city government officials have known since 2000 that meth was a real problem in community, but the totals then indicated about an estimated 30% of usage as an underlying situation in criminal activity. The survey this year indicates a significant percentage increase for woman more so than men with the finding that 53% of women booked had meth in their system. The study also revealed that marijuana was a commonly used drug among participating male defendants, but that meth was the most widely used among men also. However, the increase in percentages of male defendants using meth during criminal activity was not as dramatic as for women defendants.

San Diego has conducted this survey annually since 2000 in an attempt to compare the information to death statistics and local health facility emergencies. The aggregate information could help the city evaluate the reality of the local drug problem and better understand the overall impact on the community. Meth has become a real social problem in the state of California and is found to be an underlying issue in nearly 70% of all booked crimes. In addition, the drug average before a user winds up in trouble is approximately 15 years for many who use the drug, as moderate use is the usually how the problem begins before becoming a full blown medical emergency or results in an arrest.

One of the most staggering results of the survey is that nearly 70% of everyone being booked into jail was under the influence of at least one drug, with many arrestees having multiple drugs in their system, even at the end of the 48-hour time period before the survey was conducted. One interesting result was that, while the use of opiates had increased around 15%, the use of cocaine in particular saw a dramatic decrease of only 6% of all women and 5% of all men booked.

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