Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Patriotism is a way of saying "Women and children first." And that no one can force a man to feel this way. Instead he must embrace it freely.”     Robert A. Heinlein,    Address at the U.S. Naval Academy April 5, 1973

September 15, 2009

Nearly 1.5 Million Americans Arrested For Victimless Crimes In 2008

by Doug Mataconis

The new FBI Crime Report is out and reveals some interesting information:

  • Prostitution and “commercialized vice” — 75,004 arrests
  • Gambling — 9,811 arrests
  • Drug Possession — 1,401,188 arrests
    • Heroin or Cocaine Possession — 342,210 arrests
    • Marijuana — 754,224 arrests
    • Synthetic drugs (i.e., crystal meth) — 56,184 arrests
    • Other “dangerous” drugs — 248,570

Which leaves us with a grand total of 1,486,003 Americans arrested in 2008 for victimless crimes.

H/T: Coyote Blog and Radley Balko

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  1. Call me clueless, but how exactly do you have .811 arrests?

    Comment by Justin Bowen — September 15, 2009 @ 11:41 am
  2. What about income tax evasion?

    Comment by FSK — September 15, 2009 @ 12:01 pm
  3. Justin,

    A typo, obviously.


    Comment by Doug Mataconis — September 15, 2009 @ 12:11 pm
  4. FSK,

    That does not to appear to have been included in the FBI report.

    Comment by Doug Mataconis — September 15, 2009 @ 12:11 pm
  5. FSK -

    Tax evasion is *obviously* not a victimless crime. Think of all those community organizers who are denied money when people evade taxes!

    Comment by Quincy — September 15, 2009 @ 12:35 pm
  6. Is your total counting people twice? You say “1,486,003 Americans arrested” but some of those were probably repeat offenders of one kind or another.

    Comment by Peter — September 16, 2009 @ 5:11 am
  7. Wow. In my previous post on the prison population, the total number was at 2.3 million.

    If my math is correct (2.3 million – 1.8 million) that means that roughly 800,000 prisoners have actual victims.

    I can’t say I’m that surprised.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — September 17, 2009 @ 10:45 am
  8. Stephen – I think you should think about the difference between “arrests” and “prisoners”. Not all prisoners were arrested this year, not all arrests go to prison, and people can be arrested multiple times. So to say there were 1.8 million arrests over the past year is not the same as saying there are 1.8 million people currently in prison for those crimes.

    Comment by Peter — September 18, 2009 @ 5:40 am
  9. Peter, you may have a point there. It’s probably not a true apples to apples comparison. There is a difference between the number of prisoners and the number of arrests.

    The 2.3 million figure, as I understand it, is that in 2008 “at any given time” there was roughly 2.3 million prisoners. More than half of these prisoners are in custody due to drugs (and ¾ of these are non-violent offenders).

    But whether or not these arrests turn into long prison sentences, 1.5 million arrests for victimless crimes in one year is a terrible waste of police resources, tax dollars, and a terrible erosion of liberty and justice.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — September 18, 2009 @ 11:03 am

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