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Offense Category

Controlled Substances Act

What is it?

Production, distribution and/or possession of certain narcotics and other drugs.

What does our data show?

Drug cases under the Controlled Substances Act dropped by about two-thirds from 2000 to 2018. The vast majority of these cases, about 95%, are felonies.


Detailed charts are unavailable for charges with fewer than 750 cases.

  • Felony
  • Misdemeanor

Race and Gender

This data shows that Black people make up the vast majority of criminal defendants charged in Cook County. Of the more than 3 million criminal cases filed in Cook County between 2000 and 2018, more than 61% were filed against Black people, even though Black people only make up 23% of the county’s population.

Research suggests the disparity has more to do with social inequity than an inherent link between race and criminality. Concentrated poverty in urban areas increases the likelihood of certain violent and property crimes, particularly in under-resourced, racially segregated communities. Black people are the most racially isolated group in Cook County and tend to live in communities where intergenerational poverty and violence, abetted by segregation, disinvestment, and institutionalized racism, have limited opportunities for many.

The disparities in charges also reflect inequities and racial bias in policing. Black people are disproportionately targeted for arrest. These numbers reflect overall trends seen in our era of mass incarceration, driven especially by law enforcement strategies such as Broken Windows policing, stop and frisk, disproportionate stops of Black drivers, and disparities in drug arrests.

Charges by Race and Ethnicity

Charges by race and ethnicity, men and women (430,806).

Black302,609 cases70.24%

Charges by race and ethnicity, men only (358,576).

Black256,172 cases71.44%

Charges by race and ethnicity, women only (64,746).

Black45,720 cases70.61%

Charges by Gender

Charges by gender, all races and ethnicities (430,806).

Male358,576 cases83.23%

Charges by gender, Black alone (302,609).

Male256,172 cases84.65%

Charges by gender, white alone (56,967).

Male44,210 cases77.61%

Charges by gender, Latinx alone (39,111).

Male35,205 cases90.01%

Charges by gender, other or unknown race or ethnicity (32,119).

Male22,989 cases71.57%

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