October 12, 2000
California Leads Nation In Drug Offenders In Prison
Francisco, CA: A new Justice Policy Institute study states that California
leads the nation in drug offender imprisonment with a rate of 115 per 100,000
(the national average is 44 per 100,000). In the past three years, more
Californians were imprisoned for simple drug possession (38,716) than for sales
and manufacturing drugs (35,276).
According to the study, in 1980, only 379 Californians were imprisoned for drug possession offenses as opposed to 12,749 in 1999. The study also found that counties with stricter drug law enforcement policies did not experience greater crime or drug use declines, and in most instances, drug arrests and imprisonment rates coincided with crime increases or slower crime decreases.
The authors stated that rising rates of drug imprisonment in California were not associated with changes in crime rates. For example, Riverside County's drug possession imprisonment rate is 500 percent greater than Contra Costa County, yet the violent crime rate is 30 percent lower in Contra Costa.
"The findings cast serious doubt on prison advocate claims that strict and harsh drug enforcement is effective crime control policy," said Daniel Macallair, co-author of the study. "It is also good news for counties that adopted a more balanced approach to their drug problem."
For more information, please contact Daniel Macallair or Deborah Vargas of the Justice Policy Institute at (415) 621-5661 or visit www.cjcj.org.
Bush, Gore Begin To Outline Anti-Drug Programs
Rapids, IA: While addressing a crowd in Cedar Rapids last Friday,
Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush said the war on drugs "is
a cause I will lead" and promised an additional $2.8 billion in spending
over five years to fight increased drug use. Bush said the money would be
used to create new drug prevention and treatment programs.
Using statistics from the National Institute of Drug Abuse, Bush said teenage drug use increased every year during 1992-97. According to the latest data by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, teenage drug use has declined 21 percent since 1997.
"Unfortunately, in the last seven and a half years, fighting drugs has ceased to be a national priority," Bush said. "Drug policy has been pursued without urgency, without energy, without success."
"Bush appears 'high' on drug war rhetoric," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director. "To claim that the Clinton administration hasn't vigorously prosecuted the drug war is pure hyperbole. Unfortunately, from NORML's perspective, the Clinton administration has wasted more taxpayers' dollars, arrested and imprisoned more citizens on drug charges - especially for marijuana - than either the Reagan or Bush administrations. Bush's rhetoric is scary and clearly out of touch with most mainstream Americans."
Meanwhile, Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore has proposed $5.3 billion for drug prevention and treatment programs and a national anti-drug media campaign. Gore is also seeking tougher penalties for drug dealers who sell to minors.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Foundation Executive Director at (202) 483-8751.
Department Of Transportation Calls For Drug Testing Lab Investigation
DC: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is launching an
investigation of all 65 federally certified drug testing labs after a case
involving an airline pilot raised doubts about a Lenexa, KS lab's validation
LabOne's questionable validation of urine samples arose during an administrative hearing before the National Transportation Safety Board for Delta Airlines pilot Doukas Siotkas. Siotkas was fighting to keep his pilot's license after a July 1999 drug test showed a creatinine level of zero. Creatinine levels are measured to verify that a urine sample has not been tampered with and readings of less than 5 milligrams per deciliter is deemed to be substitution of a sample. Creatinine levels are typically low for vegetarians, petite women and people who drink large quantities of water. No further testing was done on the sample and Siotkas was fired.
During the safety board's hearing, the Airline Pilots Association challenged the legitimacy of drug test validation and stated that LabOne only provided whole numbers, rather than to a decimal point, which is against federal guidelines. The Federal Aviation Administration allowed Siotkas to keep his license and he was rehired by Delta.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) urged the Health and Human Services department to check the validating protocols for all 65 labs. A DOT spokesman said the agency "is concerned other labs may have conducted similar tests without completely implementing all test procedures."
For more information, please contact Scott Colvin, NORML Publications Director at (202) 483-5500.
California Party On Saturday To Benefit NORML
A benefit party for NORML will be held this Saturday, October 14, in Tiburon,
CA. Among those hosting the event are spiritualist Ram Dass, famed San
Francisco attorneys Tony Serra and Michael Stepanian, San Francisco District
Attorney Terrance Hallinan and drug policy expert Marsha Rosenbaum, Ph.D.
Attendees are asked to make a minimum $100 contribution.
Award-winning satirist and counter-culture journalist Paul Krassner will entertain at the party. There will also be a silent art auction featuring an original Doonesbury strip donated by Garry Trudeau.
To register, please call NORML by Friday at 5 p.m. (EDT) at (202) 483-5500.
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