DRUG OFFENSE CONVICTIONS UP SHARPLY IN US

The number of people convicted in state court of drug-trafficking charges jumped 50 percent in just two years, the Justice Department said Sunday. A Bureau of Justice Statistics study also found that 41 percent of the drug traffickers convicted in 1988 were sentenced to serve time in state prison, an increase from 37 percent two years earlier.

The study found that some 667,000 people were convicted of felony offenses in state courts during 1988, while there were 31,000 felony convictions in federal courts.

State courts sentenced 44 percent of the convicted felons to prison during 1988. An additional 25 percent were sentenced to local jails with sentences usually not exceeding one year; 31 percent were given lesser sentences. Two percent of those convicted of murder or non-negligent manslaughter were sentenced to death.

Among those convicted, 57 percent were white, 41 percent black, and 2 percent were other races. By gender, 87 percent were male.

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