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The New York Times February 8, 1951
STIFFER LAW ASKED IN NARCOTICS CASES
Prison sentences up to twenty years for narcotics sellers and intensified treatment for addicts as "public health menaces" were urged in an interim report on the problem of narcotics control, issued yesterday by District Attorney Frank S. Hogan.
The report, compiled after a two-year study, also recommended a legislative investigation of "the whole narcotics problem with a view to formulation of a state program for the treatment and cure of addicts."
Mr. Hogan observed that statistics gathered- by a coordinating committee under Assistant District Attorney Irving Slonim told "a lucid and lurid story of a marked' rise in addiction during the postwar years."
For instance, he cited the 200 per cent jump from 1946 to last year in the number of cases involving. Possession of narcotics and hypodermic needles which have come before the Court of Special Sessions.
In cases relating solely to youths between the ages of 16 and 18, the figures are "even more depressing," the report noted.
Rise of Nearly 300% In Year
In the youth part of the same court, forty-one "possession" cases were disposed of in 1949, while in 1950 there were 161 cases, an increase of almost 300 per cent. The city-wide Youth Counsel Bureau, the report said, also has found a grave rise in the number of addicts. In 1949 the bureau handled cases involving eighty-nine youths. Last year there were 333.
Not only is the direction and the acceleration of the trend "startling," Mr. Hogan said, but the change in the type of drug being used also has caused considerable concern. In 1949 the most popular narcotic was marijuana, while in 1950, Mr. Hogan said, "it was the devastating and enslaving heroin."
Frequent conferences with the Federal Narcotics Bureau, the New York Police Department and various agencies have emphasized the necessity of concentrating the attack of all law enforcement on the narcotics seller, Mr. Hogan, said.
The report described the difficulty of proving in court sufficient evidence against a seller to bring in a felony conviction. The current law, enacted last year, penalized the sale of narcotics as a felony and its possession only as a misdemeanor.
Mr. Hogan urged that the statute's "defect" be eliminated by the enactment of a law whereby "all possession of narcotics would be declared a felony."
Under the proposed law, which has been offered for legislative consideration, the maximum prison term for dealing in drugs would be increased from ten to fifteen years, while the minimum sentence would be three years.
In addition, the proposed law would provide an added penalty of from three to five years if the arrested person had in his possession only one ounce of heroin, cocaine or morphine, or, of eight or more ounces of marijuana, opium or like narcotics.
Describing an addict as a victim of a contagious disease, Mr. Hogan said that in many cases the user will introduce his family and friends to the habit or cultivate addiction so that he may become a small-time seller and thereby get money to supply his own cravings
He proposed that treatment procedure he divorced from the criminal courts and be placed in the hands of health authorities. Under his proposal any narcotics addict under 21 would be removed to a hospital and confined there until cured.