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White House Drug Control Plan to Focus on Criminal Justice Reforms and Treatment

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The White House will focus on using public health tools to fight addiction, and on criminal justice reforms, in its drug control policy this year, the Associated Press reports.

Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, announced the government’s drug control strategy Wednesday at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“We know that if drug treatment is done early it is usually more effective, and it’s usually less costly than longer term, because drug addiction is a progressive disease,” Kerlikowske told the AP before unveiling the plan.

Between 3 million and 5 million new patients could soon receive addiction treatment under the Affordable Care Act. The change will have a major impact on treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.

The White House will place a greater emphasis on providing treatment for non-violent drug offenders, instead of sending them to prison, according to the article. The plan centers on drug courts and probation programs designed to lower incarceration rates. It also will emphasize community-based policing programs aimed at stopping the cycle of drug use, crime and incarceration.

“I think the important part is that a lot of criminal justice experts and police chiefs and sheriffs — my colleagues for many years and myself included — recognize that with a drug problem you can’t arrest your way out of the problem, and so we really need to be smart on the drug problem,” said Kerlikowske, who was once headed Seattle’s police department.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Doug / April 26, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Actually young adults have some of the worst outcomes in drug courts. Aside from that, I’m a huge fan of such programs as an alternative to incarceration and as stepping stones towards sensible drug policy. They have around a 75% success rate over time, which is way better than prison’s at a fraction of the cost. Since a high percentage of arrestees had heroin in their systems in Washington, DC, in 1969, Nixon brilliantly concluded that all drug users are criminals and that the only solution was to declare war on ourselves and each other, simultaneously benefitting politicians, terrorists, law enforcement, gangs, and the prison industry. The other 95% of us suffer under the current system. Sadly, it appears that no one is pointing out the emperor’s new clothes. Despite paying lip service to ending the war on drugs, the only way to make this new strategy appear friendly to treatment is to compare treatment and prevention to DOMESTIC law enforcement. They ignore the billions we blow outside our borders to police the effects of our nation’s gluttonous appetite for intoxication (page 2). By claiming that the opposite of prohibition is legalization, they stake out a false position as “moderate” while continuing prohibition. The true opposite of prohibition is mandatory intoxication, which might dramatically improve the quality of our laws and policies. Legalization and regulation ARE the middle ground. Washington lies again. When they reduce the sentencing disparity for crack versus powder cocaine from 100X to “only” 18x they are still targeting minorities just like our antiquated marijuana laws are intended to do. The war on drugs continues to claim victims around the country, few of them fair-skinned. I am disgusted that “my” government continues to hypocritically declare war on minorities and sick people unless they use lethal, government-approved drugs like alcohol and nicotine. We continue to subsidize these deadly legal drugs by paying for the damage they cause with our tax dollars. We all know by now that alcohol and tobacco cost and kill far more than all illicit drugs combined, and that more than half the costs associated with illegal drugs are simply due to their legal status, not any innate property of the substance. So much for hope and change. Once again, Washington speaks with a forked tongue.

  2. Tammy / April 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    That’s all good and well; but you can’t force an addict to treatment. They may know they have a problem, but if they are not willing (usually by hitting THEIR bottom)that or the courts won’t make a difference. Planting the seed of recovery and introducing them to it is good, but that is all really anyone can do.

  3. Avatar of Phil
    Phil / April 25, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Actually you CAN force an addict to treatment, but you can’t make them successful. Drug Courts, with which I have worked since their implementation in Arkansas, are about 95% successful. The younger a substance abuser enters into any program the better chance of success, since addiction is a progressive disease. I also belong to AA, and the statement you made sounds a lot like the AA/NA stuff you hear at meetings. Education and science trump mythology ever time.

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