• New Data Show 1 in 9 High School Seniors are using Spice or K2 (Synthetic Marijuana)

    Today, the National Institute on Drug Abuse released the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey, which included some troubling new information on the prevalence of synthetic drug use among high school seniors.  The results indicate that one in nine high school seniors had used “Spice” or “K2” over the past year.  That means synthetic marijuana is now the second most frequently used illicit drug, after marijuana, among high school seniors. 

    So what do we know about these synthetic drugs? 

    First, they’re dangerous.  Poison Control Centers operating across the Nation have reported over 5,500 calls relating to synthetic marijuana as of October 31 of this year.  That’s almost double the number received in all of 2010. We also know that state and local public health departments note that these drugs cause serious adverse health effects, including agitation, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia (fast, racing heartbeat), elevated blood pressure, tremor, seizures, hallucinations, and paranoid behavior. 

    Making matters worse, these drugs are often marketed as “legal” substances.  They are sometimes labeled as “herbal incense” and sold in small pouches or packets over the Internet, in tobacco and smoke shops, drug paraphernalia shops, gas stations, and convenience stores. 

    There’s still a lot we do not know about these drugs, but here’s what we do know:  We must all work together to respond to this emerging threat.  The good news is that over the past year, the Federal Government has taken comprehensive action to address this challenge:

    • ONDCP has convened several working group meetings to bring public health and safety agencies from across the Federal Government together to share data and coordinate the Federal response to reduce the threat these drugs pose.
    • In March, the Drug Enforcement Administration used its emergency scheduling authority to ban the sale of the chemicals used to manufacture K2 and Spice.  
    • We are also working with Congress to pass new laws aimed at reducing the availability of these drugs.  Just last week, the House of Representatives passed legislation that would ban synthetic drugs, including those marketed as “bath salts.”  (And at least 38 states have taken action to ban the chemicals found in K2 and Spice, as well.)
    • Over the next few weeks, ONDCP will reach out to a nationwide network of public health and safety organizations to provide them with the latest information we have on this public health problem, raise awareness, and spur action at the local level.

    We will continue to address this threat.  But parents, too, must take action.  Parents are the most powerful force in the lives of their teens.  That is why we ask that all of you take time today to talk to your teens about the serious consequences of using marijuana – in whatever form it may come, including synthetic forms like K2 and Spice. 

    Additional Resources:

    Rafael Lemaitre is Associate Director for Public Affairs

  • ONDCP and NIDA Voice Concerns over Vietnam's Approach to Drug Treatment

    A recent Human Rights Watch report asserts that there may be over one hundred facilities in Vietnam subjecting thousands of addicted individuals to inhumane labor conditions under the pretense of providing drug treatment.  Furthermore, there are indications that the Government of Vietnam may erroneously believe that these practices comply with NIDA’s Principles of Effective Treatment

    In a letter forwarded to Human Rights Watch earlier today, the Director of National Drug Control Policy and the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reiterated the United States’ strong support for safe, effective, evidence-based, drug addiction treatment that is consistent with NIDA’s Principles of Effective Treatment and internationally recognized human rights.  This joint letter from NIDA and ONDCP sets the record straight.

    The United States does not in any way condone the forced labor or inhumane conditions described in Human Rights Watch’s report on drug rehabilitation facilities in Vietnam.  While NIDA’s Principles of Effective Treatment include a principle stating that “treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective,” it is not intended to provide a justification for violent or punitive coercion without access to due process or internationally recognized human rights.  This principle is based on evidence that treatment entered as a result of a criminal justice mandate to avoid imprisonment, or even within a criminal justice setting, can be successful.  It also applies to other addicted individuals who would not have entered treatment were it not for a doctor, nurse, relative or friend who took the time to present to them the serious health consequences of avoiding needed drug treatment. 

    ONDCP wholeheartedly supports all of NIDA’sresearch-based Principles of Effective Treatment, which also include:

    • Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior;
    • No single treatment is appropriate for everyone;
    • Treatment needs to be readily available;
    • Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse;
    • Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical;
    • Counseling – individual and/or group – and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment;
    • Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies;
    • An individual's treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs;
    • Many drug-addicted individuals also have other mental disorders;
    • Medically assisted detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug abuse;
    • Drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously, as lapses during treatment do occur; and
    • Treatment programs should assess patients for the presence of HIV/ AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases as well as provide targeted risk-reduction counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them at risk of contracting or spreading infectious diseases.

    NIDA and ONDCP believe that regardless of the manner in which an intervention is initiated, effective drug addiction treatment ultimately must be:  a) evidence-based; b) take advantage of the various treatment modalities available; and, c) address the multiple needs of the individual. 

    The United States will continue to work to ensure that Vietnam and other countries worldwide receive this important drug treatment message loud and clear.  For more information, read the full letter.

  • Cocaine Seizures Outstripping Production? Not Exactly.

    An analysis released today by Narcoleaks makes the claim that cocaine seized worldwide in 2011 has surpassed our estimates of world production.  Their analysis is systematically flawed.  Here’s why:

    1 -  Seized cocaine is diluted, which means you can’t compare seizures to production estimates.

    Our estimates of production are expressed in terms of “pure” cocaine; this permits us to make comparisons over time.  Drug traffickers dilute cocaine by deliberately "cutting" the cocaine with other substances to increase its bulk at various stages of its distribution from South America to the United States.  What this means is that a kilogram of cocaine product seized in Los Angeles does not contain the same amount of actual pure cocaine hydrochloride as a kilogram of cocaine seized by the Coast Guard on the high seas.   Cocaine also continues to be diluted the further it goes in the supply chain (producer, exporter, wholesaler, retailer, etc.)

    Even cocaine seized in transit to the U.S. by the Coast Guard has been diluted.  Our forensic analysis shows that the average purity of cocaine seized on the high seas alone (before it even reaches U.S. streets) is 75 percent and dropping.  Moreover, our analysis of seized cocaine leaving South America in recent years show that approximately 85 percent of cocaine seizures are being cut with levamisole, a veterinary deworming medicine.

    As a result, it is comparing apples to oranges to compare potential production amounts with amounts seized.

    2 - Drug traffickers work in the shadows and make accounting very difficult. 

    Our estimates of cocaine produced in Colombia are just that – estimates.  Unlike producers of legitimate products, drug traffickers do not provide annual reports on production capacity and sales (although we wish they would!).  Most data--including potential cocaine production, seizures, availability, and consumption--have to be estimated.  The estimation procedures for each step are associated with varying degrees of uncertainty.  For example, our estimate of potential cocaine production of about 700 metric tons (of pure cocaine or about 850 metric tons of export quality cocaine) is actually the midpoint of a range--there may have been more or less actually produced.

    3 - Cocaine moving through the transit zone contains drugs from the previous year, so you can’t compare year to year. 

    The “cocaine pipleline” doesn't work on a simple annual basis.  Cocaine that is being consumed in the United States today may have been produced up to as much as two years ago in South America (the problem is compounded when it is understood that production in Colombia in previous years was greater than this year). So the estimate of cocaine moving to the U.S. at any given time is a mixture of the amount produced over two years; so attempting to do a precise year-on-year accounting is impossible.

    So what do we know?  Today, thanks to a variety of actions throughout the hemisphere, a wide array of data show that the U.S. cocaine market is under significant stress.       

  • The Health Care Innovation Challenge Wants Your Ideas

    As part of the Affordable Care Act, the Health Care Innovation Challenge will award up to $1 billion in grants to fund the best projects that doctors, hospitals, and other innovators propose to deliver high-quality medical care and save money.

    In a previous blog, the White House encouraged interested individuals to send innovative ideas and solutions, and submit a proposal for transforming the health care system.  This provides the substance abuse community the opportunity to join the conversation and create new innovations for the prevention, treatment and recovery fields.  In the application, proposals are encouraged to focus on high cost/high-risk groups including those populations with multiple chronic diseases and/or mental health or substance use issues, poor health status due to socio-economic and environmental factors, multiple medical conditions, high cost individuals, or the frail elderly.

    Visit the website for more information and to join one of the upcoming webinars.

  • President Obama Names December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

    “As we strive to reduce the damage drug use inflicts upon our communities, we must address the serious and growing threat drunk, drugged, and distracted driving poses to all Americans.” – President Obama, December 1st2011

    A new Presidential proclamation names December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, which is another important step in the Administration’s effort to raise awareness about drugged driving and ensure the safety our Nation’s highways.  It is well known that drugs, even those prescribed by a physician, can impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory.  ONDCP is proud to stand with our Federal, state, local and tribal partners to find innovative ways to address this alarming issue.  Each of us have a role to play in reducing the consequences of drug use and encouraging healthy lifestyles. As the President said in last week’s proclamation:

    While enforcement and legislation are critical elements of our strategy, we know that the parents, educators, and community leaders who work with young people every day are our Nation’s best advocates for responsible decisionmaking.”

    Additional resources:

  • Obama Drug Policy: Reforming the Criminal Justice System

    Ed. note: This was cross-posted from Huffington Post

    Recently we had the privilege of recognizing 10 community organizers at the White House as "Champions of Change." Each of these Champions represent innovative organizations and programs working across America to reform the way we approach our nation's drug problem. Among this group of educators, physicians, social workers and people in recovery from substance use disorders, was a 25-year veteran of the Providence, R.I. police department.

    As we sat in the Roosevelt Room just steps from the Oval Office, Lt. Daniel Gannon told us something many Americans might not expect from a law enforcement officer. Not every drug offender belongs in prison, he said. "Prisons are for the bad guys." For many of the others, he said, what's often needed is access to drug treatment, community services and a second chance. Lt. Gannon -- who advocates for an innovative community policing program called Drug Market Intervention -- is just one among thousands of community leaders around the country working to implement a variety of innovative, compassionate and evidenced-based drug policies at the local level.

    Progressive and effective reform efforts like these could not come at a better time. More than seven million people in the United States are under the supervision of the criminal justice system. Of these, more than two million are behind bars. Making matters worse, African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug offenses. In fact, African Americans have higher proportions of inmates in state prison who are drug offenders compared to whites -- about 50 percent higher. For states and localities, the cost of managing the prison population has grown significantly. Between 1988 and 2009, annual state corrections spending jumped from $12 billion to more than $50 billion.

    Just as alarming is the strong connection between crime and substance use. Data shows that over half of state and federal inmates used drugs during the month preceding the offense corresponding to their sentence. And nearly a third of state prisoners and a quarter of Federal prisoners were using drugs at the time of the offense.

    The complexity and scale of our drug problem requires a nationwide effort to support smart drug policies that reduce drug use and its consequences. Since day one, the Obama Administration has been engaged in an unprecedented government-wide effort to reform our nation's drug policies and restore balance to the way we deal with the drug problem. We have pursued a variety of alternatives that abandon an unproductive enforcement-only "War on Drugs" approach to drug control and acknowledge we cannot arrest our way out of the drug problem and, further, that drug addiction is a disease of the brain, not some "moral failing."

    This strategy is vital because by recognizing drug addiction as a chronic and progressive disease, we can actually work to prevent and treat substance use disorders and break the cycle of drug-related crime. Simply put, it makes more sense to prevent and treat drug problems before they become chronic than simply to legalize drugs altogether or keep filling our prisons with drug offenders over and over again. Neither of these extremes are sound or humane drug policies.

    Under the Obama Administration, the shift has already begun toward programs that emphasize public health over incarceration. Over the past year, the federal government spent $10.4 billion on drug prevention and treatment programs. That is more than twice the amount -- $4.3 billion -- spent on drug-related incarceration operations. And it's just the beginning:

    • Last year, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law. This important and long-overdue criminal justice reform dramatically reduced a 100-to-1 disparity between sentences for powder and crack cocaine that disproportionately affected minorities. More recently, we advocated for, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved, the retroactive application of these sentencing guidelines which became effective on Nov. 1.
    • The Administration ardently supports the expansion of drug courts, which place non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison. Today, there are over 2,600 drug courts across the nation, diverting about 120,000 people a year into treatment instead of prison. Because of this expansion, someone in America is referred to drug treatment instead of jail through drug courts on average every four minutes.
    • The Administration is implementing the Second Chance Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and provides resources for common sense, evidence-based approaches to reducing crime. Specifically, it provides funding for programs that improve coordination of reentry services and policies at the state, tribal, and local levels, including demonstration grants, reentry courts, family-centered programs, substance abuse treatment, employment, mentoring and other services needed to reduce recidivism and improve the transition from prison and jail to communities.
    • Last year, the Department of Justice awarded $100 million to support 178 state and local reentry grants to provide a wide range of services and, in late September, awarded another $83 million to 118 new grantees.
    • The Department of Justice has urged state attorney generals to review the legal collateral consequences of their state laws being placed upon ex-offenders that may burden their successful reentry into society. (State and local governments are also taking action. During their 2011 legislative sessions, more than a dozen states tackled sentencing and corrections issues.)
    • The Administration has worked to make certain that local public housing authorities understand Federal law regarding the discretion housing authorities have to allow ex-offenders access to public housing. Research shows that ex-offenders who do not find stable housing in the community are more likely to recidivate than those who do. Studies have also found that the majority of people released from prison intend to return to their families, many of whom live in public or other subsidized housing. Clarifying these rules allowing ex-offenders to rejoin their families is therefore an important part of our overall criminal justice reform efforts. There are only two explicit bans on occupancy: Individuals convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine in public housing and registered sex offenders.

    But more still must be done. That is why we are closely examining innovative new programs that show great promise in extending our approach to criminal justice reform and alternatives to incarceration. Here are two that are already showing solid results:

    • The Drug Market Intervention program.This community-based strategy has shown tremendous promise in disrupting open air drug markets by directly engaging drug dealers, their families, and communities by creating clear and predictable sanctions, offering a range of community services including drug treatment, and improving community-police relations. Jurisdictions that have implemented this strategy have experienced decreases in drug crime and other crimes without displacement of the drug market activity into other neighborhoods.
    • Hawaii's HOPE Probation program(Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement).This program reduces probation violations by drug offenders and others at high risk of recidivism. Probationers in the program receive swift, predictable, and immediate sanctions - typically resulting in several days in jail - for each detected violation, such as detected drug use or missed appointments with a probation officer. So far, evaluation results indicate the program is highly successful at reducing drug use and crime, even among difficult populations such as meth users and domestic violence offenders.

    There is no simple, straightforward fix to America's drug problem. Successfully combating this social challenge and reducing the toll substance abuse takes on our nation requires a broad approach that blends drug treatment, smart law enforcement and effective alternatives to incarceration. With these proven public health and public safety strategies, we can break the vicious cycle of drug use and crime, thereby saving countless lives and taxpayer dollars and helping to make it possible for all Americans to achieve their full potential.

    Rafael Lemaitre is Associate Director for Public Affairs

  • Prisoner Reentry Programs: Ensuring a Safe and Successful Return to the Community

    Each year, more than 700,000 people are released from state and Federal prison, while another 9 million cycle through local jails.  Statistics indicate that more than two-thirds of state prisoners are rearrested within three years of their release and half are re-incarcerated.  High rates of recidivism mean more crime, more victims, and more pressure on an already overburdened criminal justice system.   The Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy supports comprehensive change within the criminal justice system, promoting a combined public health/public safety approach to stop the all-too-common cycle of arrest, incarceration, release, and re-arrest.

    Reentry programs are designed to assist incarcerated individuals with a successful transition to their community after they are released.  Improving reentry is a critical component of President Obama's Strategy to reduce drug use and its consequences.  Specifically, the Strategy calls for supporting post-incarceration reentry efforts by assisting in job placement, facilitating access to drug-free housing, and providing other supportive services.  To further these goals, ONDCP is participating in the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, first convened in January 2011 by Attorney General Eric Holder.  The Council’s main purpose is to make communities safer, assisting those returning from prison and jail in becoming productive, tax-paying citizens and saving taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.

    To support this effort, the Council launched a website, as part of the National Reentry Resource Center, designed to provide information for State and local leaders, community and faith-based organizations, and people returning from jail or prison.  Of note is a series of “Reentry Mythbusters” that address a number of issues pertaining to reentering offenders, employers, and housing officials.  The Web site also contains an interactive calendar listing upcoming trainings and a service directory of state-by-state information.

    In addition, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan issued letters seeking to clarify current policies surrounding reentering offenders.  Attorney General Holder’s letter to State Attorneys General urged them to review the legal collateral consequences of their State laws that may impede the successful reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals into society, such as housing and employment restrictions.  This parallels the Justice Department-led review of Federal collateral consequences as a step to reducing the unnecessary burdens placed upon reentering offenders.  Secretary Donovan’s letter to executive directors of Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) clarified HUD’s position regarding eligibility for public housing among people with criminal records.  In the letter, Secretary Donovan encourages PHA executive directors “to allow ex-offenders to rejoin their families in the Public Housing or Housing Choice Voucher programs, when appropriate,” an important step to connect reentering offenders to stable housing. 

    The Administration recognizes the importance of offender reentry as a critical tool in breaking the cycle of drug use and crime, and improving the public health and public safety of our communities.  These ongoing efforts are necessary at all levels of government, and we hope you can support these efforts at the community level.

    Cynthia Caporizzo  is Senior Policy Advisor for Criminal Justice

  • Maricopa County Works to Break the Cycle of Drugs, Crime, and Incarceration

    The 2011 National Drug Control Strategy recognizes that many individuals who use drugs become involved in the criminal justice system.  This is also the case in Maricopa County, Arizona.    The most recent Arizona Arrestee Reporting Information Network (AARIN) Annual Adult Report, which provides data on arrestees in Maricopa County, indicates that in the 30 days prior to arrest 56% used marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, or heroin. 

    Many of the principles identified in the Strategy that are intended to break the drugs and crime cycle are being implemented in Maricopa County by the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department.  Below are some accomplishments and ongoing projects focused on assisting offenders.

    • Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) - The department is committed to using evidence-based practices (EBP) in its supervision strategies and has translated EBP into practical approaches that probation officers can incorporate into their daily supervision practices, such as using validated risk and needs assessments and reassessments to develop probationer case plans.  Individuals with drug abuse disorders are referred to drug court or other relevant treatment programs. 
    • Reentry - In January 2010, through a federal stimulus grant, the department implemented a Prison Reentry Unit, changing the way released offenders are supervised.  A key priority is ensuring these offenders report to the probation department following their release from the Arizona Department of Corrections.  In the first year, over 1200 offenders received services from the unit.  The rate of offenders failing to report to probation following release from prison dropped from 23% to 2.3% with the grant.  In addition, the rate of petitions to terminate probation and return the offender to the Department of Corrections (called “petitions to revoke”) filed in the first twelve months after release dropped from 10.1% to 4.9% with the program, and the rate of new felony arrests dropped from 13.8% to 10.8% with the program.
    • Earned Time Credit (ETC) - Effective January 1, 2009, the State of Arizona implemented Earned Time Credit (ETC), providing eligible offenders the opportunity to earn 20 days of credit for every 30 days they comply with their court-ordered financial obligations, community restitution hours and are making progress towards their case plan goals.  In the short-term, it is anticipated that this legislation will reduce the length of time on probation while increasing the likelihood of successful completion of probation.  In the long term, we expect that the likelihood of recidivism will be reduced following termination from probation. 
    • Probation Outcomes - While evaluations of the effectiveness of these initiatives are ongoing, we have seen positive results.  Crime reduction is a key goal in the department’s strategic plan and is measured through three main results: successful completion of probation, termination of probation and returning to the Department of Corrections, and new felony sentences.  From FY2008 to FY2011, the percentage of offenders successfully completing probation increased from 66% to 80.3%; the percentage of offenders returned to the Department of Corrections decreased from 28% to 18.4%, and the percentage of offenders with new felony sentences decreased from 8.0% to 4.9%.  How does this affect public safety? In FY2011, an additional 1,340 offenders successfully completed probation, 1,601 fewer offenders were returned to the Department of Corrections, and 885 fewer offenders were sentenced for new felony offenses.

    These results are encouraging. It suggests that offenders can be effectively supervised in the community without negatively affecting public safety. And we can break the cycle of drugs, crime and incarceration.

    Barbara Broderick is Chief Probation Officer at the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department

  • Alternatives to the “War on Drugs:” Obama Drug Policy and Reforming the Criminal Justice System

    Compared to their representation among the U.S. population, African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated for drug offenses.  These two groups have consistently higher proportions of inmates in state prison who are drug offenders compared to whites - about 50% higher. 

    Over the past two months, we have met with African American leaders across the country – in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Atlanta and Los Angeles – to listen to what they had to say.  We discussed their concerns and ideas, and we outlined the Obama Administration’s approach to drug policy, presenting our view that it is guided by three indisputable facts:  Addiction is a disease that can be treated; people can recover from drug addiction; and new interventions are needed to appropriately address substance abuse and drug-related crime. Simply put:  We cannot arrest our way out of our Nation’s drug problem.  

    Addressing drug addiction as a public health issue will help us break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration.  And in keeping with a balanced public health and safety approach, the Obama Administration is taking unprecedented actions to restore balance to how we address our Nation’s drug problem and its disproportionate effects on communities of color.  As Director Kerlikowske has said, the “War on Drugs” metaphor is not something that captures the complexity of the problem, or our innovative response:

    • This last fiscal year, the Obama Administration spent $10.4 billion on drug prevention and treatment programs compared to $9.2 billion on domestic drug enforcement;
    • In August of last year, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law that dramatically reduced a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine, which disproportionately affected minorities;
    • The Administration also advocated for, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission approved, the retroactive application of these sentencing guidelines which became effective on November 1st.
    • We are supporting the expansion of drug courts, which place roughly 120,000 non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of prison each year;
    • The Administration is implementing the Second Chance Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and provides resources for common sense, evidence-based approaches to reducing crime;
    • The Administration has worked to clarify rules regarding the eligibility of housing authorities to allow ex-offenders access to public housing and ensure that they understand that they have the discretion to lease to all but two types of criminal convictions: Individuals convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine in public housing and registered sex offenders; and
    • Attorney General Holder has also contacted State Attorneys General to urge them to review the legal collateral consequences of their State laws being placed upon ex-offenders that may burden their successful reentry into society. 

  • Director Kerlikowske and Congresswoman Waters Meet with Los Angeles Community Leaders

    ONDCP - Waters and Kerlikowske

    Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Director Kerlikowske participate in the roundtable discussion, Los Angeles, November 10, 2011

    Last week, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Director Kerlikowske met with leaders of Los Angeles’ African American community to discuss the Obama Administration’s evidence-based approach to reforming the criminal justice system and hear suggestions on further advancements to reduce racial disparities. 

    Bringing together community substance abuse organizations, prevention advocates, law enforcement officials, members of the local judicial system, and representatives from national African American organizations, the group’s discussion centered around the current needs of the community and fostering collaboration for an integrated approach to building a healthier community.  Co-hosted by the Congresswoman and Director Kerlikowske, the roundtable also highlighted the common understanding that reducing drug use and its consequences is a process that must include a balance of public health and public safety needs, and greater emphasis on research around the science of addiction. 

    ONDCP - Roundtable participants

    Participants at the roundtable share ideas and discuss the needs of the community, Los Angeles, November 10, 2011

    “As our nation works to recover from one of the greatest recessions we’ve had, we must do everything we can to lessen the harm that drug use causes to the health, safety, and economic potential of our nation.  As part of this effort, we must reform our criminal justice system so that it recognizes drug addiction as a disease and works in a way that is fair and equitable to every American.  This challenge requires new and innovative ways of thinking about how we address our drug problem,” said Director Kerlikowske.

    Recently, the Obama Administration has made significant progress in reducing disparities in the criminal justice system.  One year ago, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law.  This important and long-overdue criminal justice reform dramatically reduced a 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between powder and crack cocaine.  The Administration also provided support for the Second Chance Act, which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support and provides resources for common sense, evidence-based approaches to reducing crime.  Specifically, the Act provides funding for programs that improve coordination of reentry services and policies at the state, tribal, and local levels, including demonstration grants, reentry courts, family-centered programs, substance abuse treatment, employment, mentoring and other services needed to improve transition from prison and jail to communities and reduce recidivism.

    To continue this progress, the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy recognizes that the criminal justice system plays a vital role in reducing the costs and consequences of crimes committed by drug-involved offenders. Director Kerlikowske and Congresswoman Waters are continuing their collaboration with communities and affected populations across the country to ensure that innovative, evidence-based solutions are used to foster healthy individuals and safe communities.