It has been found that the majority of people in federal prisons in Pennsylvania and around the country are there for drug-related offenses. The prison population has grown 800 percent from 1980 to 2012, and this growth has resulted in some lawmakers calling for reform. Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill cutting back on mandatory minimum sentencing.

According to 2012 statistics, there are about 200,000 federal prisoners around the country. Those incarcerated for drug offenses are largely male and 76 percent non-white. More than a third had no prior imprisonment and only a minimal record. Nearly one-quarter are not U.S. citizens.

More than half of the people are imprisoned for offenses related to crack or powder cocaine and nearly another quarter for methamphetamine-related offenses. Marijuana followed by heroin are the next most common drugs. However, the prison population is declining and is expected to continue doing so through 2023.

An individual who is taken into custody on drug-related charges may wish to consult an attorney. While some rules on mandatory minimum sentencing are being relaxed, this is not always the case, and the consequences of drug-related charges including possession can be severe. In some cases, even if a person does not do prison time, a conviction can have lasting and severe consequences. Those who have been convicted may have trouble finding employment and housing, among other problems. A criminal defense attorney might pursue different strategies for a person who is facing drug possession or trafficking charges, including challenging the constitutional validity of the search that led to the seizure of the drugs. If successful, this could possibly result in a dismissal of the charges..