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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Clinton Administration targets inmate drug use

By Terry Frieden/CNN


TIME: Hey, Pops, remember the crack old days? (1-4-99)

Overall U.S. murder rate down, but youth gun killings up (1-2-99)

January 5, 1999
Web posted at: 3:31 p.m. EST (2031 GMT)

WASHINGTON (January 5) -- Citing new figures which show a growing tie between drug use and crime, President Bill Clinton unveiled a new budget proposal Tuesday aimed at curbing drug use by prisoners, probationers and parolees.

The president announced a $215 million plan which includes funds to help state and local governments drug test prisoners, probationers and parolees.


"To probationers and parolees we want to send a message: If you want to keep your freedom you have to keep free of drugs," Clinton said. He also said those still in prison should expect to remain there if they stay on drugs.

The proposal represents more than a doubling of the estimated $100 million spent on combatting drug use by prisoners last year.

The White House announcement of the new initiatives came shortly after a new Justice Department report showed about three-quarters of all U.S. prisoners were involved with alcohol or drug abuse prior to their arrests.

The results of a 1997 survey of the nation's prisoners by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows a notable increase in the tie between substance abuse and the commission of other crimes during the past six years. In state prisons, 57 percent of inmates used drugs or alcohol prior to their crime, up from 50 percent in a 1991 survey. Among federal prisoners, the figure climbed from 32 to 50 percent during that period.

Attorney General Janet Reno and Drug Policy Chief General Barry McCaffrey were among those who joined the president for the unveiling of the anti-drug initiatives. One proposal calls for funding new drug courts, a concept which Reno helped pioneer. Under the plan, these courts which address only drug-related issues would increase from 400 to 1,000 by the end of next year.

McCaffrey said the proposals are a "no-brainer" because prison-based drug treatment is far less expensive than costs resulting from untreated addicts.

Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a leading proponent of intense drug testing for prisoners, also attended the ceremony and predicted the program will make "a huge dent" in the crime problem.

"Addicts under the supervision of the criminal justice system use about half of all the cocaine and heroin used in the United States. It's a staggering statistic," Townsend said.

The lone Republican to speak at the White House ceremony was Jeff Griffin, mayor of Reno, Nevada, who pledged the support of the National Conference of Mayors to the administration's anti-drug proposals.

More than one million men and women are currently behind bars. More than 90 percent are in state prisons and local jails. The federal prison system holds about 90,000 inmates.


Tuesday January 5, 1999

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