• Release issued by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet
• UNITE statement at end of story

FRANKFORT, KY (9-30-09) – The rate of prescriptions dispensed for controlled substances increased in 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties between 2005 and 2007, according to a recent report of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, and five Kentucky counties – Clinton, Magoffin, Whitley, Bell and Owsley – averaged more than four controlled substance prescriptions dispensed per resident.

This data, provided by the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER), is included in the recently released Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics in the Commonwealth, 2007. The Sourcebook is an annual publication of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s Kentucky Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) which brings together data from all components of the criminal justice system. One of the selected crime categories highlighted in the 2007 edition of the Sourcebook is prescription drug abuse.

“Despite enhanced law enforcement efforts and the many successes of KASPER, the misuse, abuse and illegal sale of prescription drugs continue to plague the Commonwealth,” said Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown. “Although we remain vigilant in our efforts to curtail illegal use and abuse, this remains a significant challenge for the Commonwealth.”

According to the Sourcebook, the rate of prescriptions dispensed for controlled substances increased by more than 20 percent in 32 counties. The counties with the highest rates of increase were Carroll (41.9%) and Hancock (54.1%).

Official law enforcement statistics compiled in the Sourcebook also illustrate the rise in illegal prescription drug activity. According to the Kentucky State Police, prescription drug related offenses rose 23.6% and arrests rose 6.3% between 2006 and 2007. The greatest percentage of prescription drug-related offenses and arrests were related to possession. Data from the Administrative Office of the Courts mirrors this increase in prescription drug related activity. The total number of prescription drug related cases in Kentucky’s court system increased 22% between 2003 and 2007, reaching a five-year high of 7,136 cases in 2007, according to the report.

The implications for an already over-burdened corrections system are significant. The number of new Department of Corrections commitments for prescription drug related offenses increased to a five-year high of 72 in 2007, the Sourcebook indicates, up from 56 in 2003. The number of new commitments for offenses that were committed either under the influence of prescription drugs and/or for the purpose of supporting their drug habit are unknown.

Among other key findings in the Sourcebook:

• In 2007, the adult arrest rate in Kentucky was higher than the national arrest rate for every Part I offense (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, auto theft, and arson) with the exception of arrests for aggravated assault. In fact, arrest rates for murder, rape, burglary, and arson in Kentucky were more than twice the national arrest rates.

• In 2007, 91% of prison admissions were returned parole violators.
Between 2006 and 2007, the juvenile arrest rate declined for all Part I offenses with the exception of rape (increased 28.4%) and larceny/theft (increased 11.4%).

• The total number of arrests for drug offenses increased 29.8% between 2005 and 2007.

• The total number of methamphetamine arrests decreased significantly between 2006 and 2007, falling from 1,223 arrests in 2006 to 690 arrests in 2007.

To access the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics in the Commonwealth, 2007, or any other SAC publication, please visit, http://www.justice.ky.gov/departments/gmb/Statistical+Analysis+Center.htm.

Statement from UNITE Director Karen Engle on the “Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics in the Commonwealth” 2007 report on the increase of prescription drug abuse in the Kentucky:

“The increase in dispensed controlled substances in 118 of 120 counties between 2005 and 2007 is an alarming realization that no community is immune to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse. People tend to believe prescription narcotics are somehow less addictive or provide a safer high than their illicit cousins, but this a myth. In reality, we see people die from prescription abuse on a weekly, if not daily, basis.”

“This is not a trend unique to Kentucky. In 2008 the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy stated that while overall teen drug use was down nationwide, more teens were abusing prescription drugs than any other illicit drug except marijuana – more than cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine combined.”

“We have made tremendous progress and learned a lot of important lessons during the last decade. As resources to combat the problems are continually stretched it becomes more difficult to keep pace with the spread of prescription drug abuse. Hopefully this report will spark greater awareness among Kentucky’s citizens for the need to provide a strong, united effort to curtail prescription drug misuse and abuse.”