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Drug use appears to rise in California prisons even after crackdown

Drug use behind bars appears to have increased since California started using drug-sniffing dogs and machinery to try to stop smuggling at state prisons, where overdose deaths are nearly five times the national rate, records show.

It’s unclear exactly why things haven’t gone as officials projected.

Some say the testing can yield artificially high results. Others say it’s too soon to draw any long-term conclusions. Still more say the program simply is not working. Prison officials won’t divulge details on results of the multimillion-dollar program.

After the Associated Press reported a year ago that the department couldn’t demonstrate the program’s effectiveness, officials said they would look for a decline in positive drug tests, overdose deaths, suicides and violent incidents, and increased participation in rehabilitation programs.

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Instead, detected drug use increased from 5.5% before the program began to 7.3% of inmates who were tested in the first year in eight of the 11 prisons where California added drug-sniffing dogs and drug-detecting scanners, according to data provided to the Associated Press.

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