Authorizing Innovative Approaches to Reduce Drug Demand
Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act, and I was pleased that the House Judiciary Committee adopted two amendments that I offered and that they are part of the base bill.
Street drug markets, such as open air drug dealing at the corner and at drug houses, are a serious public safety problem. Often located in poor, minority, and disadvantaged communities, they cause severe harm by easing initiation into drug use, supporting addiction, and by drawing youth into the drug trade.
My first amendment, which is designated Sec. 14 of H.R. 2829, provided for demonstration programs by local partnerships to shut down illicit drug market hot-spots by deterring drug dealers or altering the dynamic of drug sales. This provision authorizes funding for demonstration programs that seek to coordinate an effective intervention using a credible, deterrent message. This would encourage criminal justice agencies to collaborate with researchers and social welfare agencies to analyze local conditions and develop strategic, problem-solving interventions.
Such an approach was proven successful in High Point, NC. Upon identifying the drug market and its small group of active dealers, law enforcement carefully monitored and documented drug activity and probation/parole violations through surveillance and drug buys. Offenders with any violent criminal history were immediately arrested. Non-violent offenders, on the other hand, were confronted by law enforcement, city officials, service organizations and their families with a strong deterrent message. They were given a choice between facing immediate legal action or ceasing dealing and receiving rehabilitative services.
Consequently, the drug market promptly collapsed with minimal police intervention or crime displacement. Within one year of implementation, the drug crime rate of High Point fell by 34% and the violent crime rate was cut in half.
Sec. 14 of this bill authorizes $10 million for the next three years to fund demonstration programs supporting these interagency collaborations. The agencies would be responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the strategic intervention, and the Director would be responsible for submitting to Congress a report identifying the best practices in drug market eradication.
My second amendment, which is designated Sec. 15 of H.R. 2829, provided for demonstration programs by local partnerships to coerce abstinence in chronic hard-drug users under community supervision through the use of drug testing and sanctions. This provision authorizes funding for demonstration programs that seek to reduce the use of illicit drugs by chronic hard-drug users living in the community while under the supervision of the criminal justice system.
Approximately 80 percent of the Nation's cocaine is consumed by a relatively small group of chronic users (approximately 4 million). Three-quarters of these users are under the supervision of the criminal justice system. By deterring these users, we would be able to reduce the nation's cocaine consumption by 60 percent--and these numbers are similar for other hard drugs, such as heroin and meth.
Coerced abstinence is a highly effective means for targeting these users. This model is based on predictable, frequent drug testing and known, non-negotiable, immediate, graduated sanctions. For example, a system where a participant is tested every 72 hours and a dirty test led to an immediate, unpleasant sanction--for example, 8 hours in a jury box or 24 hours in jail. Participants are simultaneously offered incentives such as drug treatment or other rehabilitative services.
An ongoing example of this model is being used in Hawaii, where substance abuse violations are common, with meth being the drug of choice. In October 2005, one year after the program began, program participants had an 83 percent reduction in positive test results (from 21.9% for control group to 3.8% for program participants) and an 87 percent reduction in missed appointments for testing (from 10% for control group to 1.3% for program participants).
This level of effectiveness we cannot ignore. For this reason, Sec. 15 of H.R. 2829 authorizes $10 million for the next 3 years for demonstration programs that administer drug tests to individuals at least twice a week and swiftly impose a known set of graduated sanctions for non-compliance. The program must include a plan for monitoring the progress toward reducing the percentage of positive drugs and missed testing appointments, and the Director would be responsible for submitting to Congress a report identifying the best practices in reducing the use of illicit drugs by chronic hard-drug users.
I commend the Office of National Drug Control Policy for publicly committing itself to the goal of reducing illegal drug use and abuse in the United States. However, I also call on the Director to increase the allocation of funds dedicated for treatment and demand reduction efforts, which have shown to be very successful in reducing drug use. To achieve this national drug control policy that efficiently reduces drug use and abuse in the United States, we need strategies that are as smart as they are tough. This requires that we remain open to evidence-based programs and respond with innovation. I commend ONDCP for the progress it has made, ask that the Director consider these recommendations and will support this legislation, H.R. 2829, to the reauthorize the Office.
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