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Drug possession laws target people who use substances for punishment.
Illinois is one of only 18 states that makes all drug possession a felony. Most people prosecuted for drug charges in Illinois are accused of possessing only small amounts of drugs – often 2 grams or less.
From 2016 to 2018, 20,000 people in Illinois were convicted of felonies for possessing small amounts of drugs, and 7,500 were imprisoned in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).
Felony penalties for drug possession disproportionately impact Black Illinoisans.
Black people make up only 14% of Illinois’ population, but 55% of the prison population, and are convicted at nearly twice the rate of white people for low-level possession offenses despite similar rates of drug use.
Jails and prisons are not treatment centers.
Felony drug convictions cost Illinois taxpayers millions of dollars every year.
Between 2018 and 2021, imprisoning people for low-level drug possession cost the State of Illinois over $190 million.