RISE IN DRUG CONVICTIONS ADDS TO NEED FOR PRISON BEDS

The Justice Department says drug convictions jumped 161.4 percent between 1980 and 1987, paced by a 48.7 percent increase in defendants found guilty of federal crimes. Results of a study released Sunday showed that by 1987 a larger proportion of convicted defendants received prison terms from federal judges and their sentences were on average 11 months longer than those imposed in 1980, the department said.

The figures demonstrated the need for more money to build additional prisons to house the increasing numbers of inmates, US Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said. President Bush has proposed spending $1.5 billion to add 24,000 beds to the overcrowded federal prison system.

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