Drug Policy Coalition Calls for Reversal of Budget Priorities 3/5/99

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Clinton Drug Plan Fails to Prevent Adolescent Drug Use or Reduce Disease

Washington, DC: The war on drugs has failed to protect America's children from drug abuse and has failed to reduce the availability of cocaine and heroin, according to a new report titled "The Effective National Drug Control Strategy." The report was released on March 3, 1999, coinciding with Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey' testimony before a House Subcommittee on his year 2000 budget request.

The "Effective Strategy" recommends spending two out of every three dollars of the drug control budget on prevention and rehabilitation. It also recommends tripling funding for adolescent drug use prevention programs, with the emphasis on investing in America's youth through after school programs, mentor programs and honest drug education.

"Contrary to General McCaffrey's claims, the drug war still relies overwhelmingly on incarcerating drug users and trying to interdict drugs -- the two least effective methods of reducing drug abuse," said Kevin Zeese, President of Common Sense for Drug Policy and one of the report's lead authors. "We know what works, but General McCaffrey keeps investing in strategies that are destroying families, hurting kids and undermining the Constitution."

The Network of Reform Groups (NRG), a coalition of two dozen organizations working for more sensible drug policies, examined government data and independent research and concluded that the drug war has not deterred children from using illegal drugs, nor has it resulted in fewer deaths and injuries from drug use.

The report found that:

  • The U.S. government spent $3.6 billion on the drug war in 1988, and will spend $17.9 billion in 1999 -- $2 out of every $3 on law enforcement.
  • From 1985 to 1995, 85 percent of the increase in the federal prison population was due to drug convictions. Due to mandatory sentencing, drug offenders spend more time in jail (average 82.2 months) than rapists (average 73.3 months).
  • Drug overdose deaths are up 540 percent since 1980, 33 people per day are infected with HIV from injection drug use, which is becoming the engine for a new epidemic, Hepatitis C.
  • The price of heroin and cocaine has dropped dramatically since 1981, while purity of both drugs has increased.
The report recommends that the Drug Czar create a non-partisan panel of experts to evaluate current drug control efforts and consider the full range of alternative policy options, and recommends a reversal of the federal drug budget priorities, as well as a range of reforms including eliminating mandatory minimum drug sentences, lifting the ban on use of federal AIDS funds for needle exchange programs, reversing the trend toward cutting school budgets to invest in prisons and enacting "family friendly" laws that keep families together, kids in school and social networks intact.

The Effective Strategy can be found on line at http://www.csdp.org/edcs/.

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Issue #81, 3/5/99 Announcements | HEA Reform Campaign Gains Momentum -- DRCNet Attacked by Republican Rep. Souder | Hundreds Rally Against Rockefeller Drug Laws | Amnesty International Charges that Women Behind Bars Suffer "Rough Justice" | Drug Policy Coalition Calls for Reversal of Budget Priorities | Federal Bill Reintroduced to Legalize Medical Marijuana | Canada's House of Commons Debates Medical Marijuana | Australian Prime Minister Criticized Over FBI Invitation | Sen. Hatch Advocates for Expansion of Maintenance Therapies for Opiate Dependency | Hemp Reform Efforts Underway | Editorial: Million Man Madness
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