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9. Combat Crime and Drug Abuse

The rate of serious crime reported by State and local law enforcement agencies has dropped significantly in recent years. The 1999 Crime Index is down 19 percent from 1992, the eighth consecutive annual decline. Violent crimes, including murders and rapes, have fallen to the lowest level in two decades. Preliminary figures for the first six months of 2000 show a further decline in the crime rate. This success can be attributed to a number of factors, including the strong economy, demographic changes, and Federal aid to the front-line State and local police departments.

Drug abuse imposes a variety of costs on the Nation. These costs include cash costs for the investigation and prosecution of drug-related crimes and the incarceration and treatment of drug offenders, property losses of crime victims and insurance companies, and lost earnings due to illness and premature death. The total costs associated with drug abuse are estimated to exceed $100 billion annually. This figure does not capture the human costs associated with drug abuse wasted opportunities, families torn apart, and lives lost.

Drug abuse in the United States is down from 20 years ago, but it remains unacceptably high. According to the most recent National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA), 6.7 percent of the population 12 years or older reported using an illicit drug in the past month, up from 5.8 percent in 1992.

Among teenagers, the rate of illegal drug abuse is higher than in the population in general. According to the NHSDA, approximately nine percent of youths age 12 17 were current users of illegal drugs in 1999. That figure is down 21 percent since 1997, but substantially higher than the 5.3 percent found by the NHSDA in 1992. The number of young adults, ages 18 25, who have used drugs in the past month continues to rise, increasing from 14.7 percent in 1997 to 18.8 percent in 1999, nearly half again as much as the 13.1 percent rate in 1992.

In addition to the threats posed by marijuana and other traditional drugs such as cocaine and heroin, today's children must deal with a wave of new drugs that are especially dangerous. Synthetic "club drugs" such as Ecstasy, or MDMA, have become popular at clubs and raves. Among 12th-graders surveyed by Department of Health and Human Services' Monitoring the Future Study, 2000, 8.2 percent report using Ecstasy in the past year, compared to 5.6 percent in 1999. Eighth- and 10th-graders also reported significant increases in Ecstasy use in the past year.

The President's Plan of Action

The 2002 Budget addresses the social and economic costs of crime and drug abuse. Among other things, the initiatives, highlights of which are described below, will include expanding the range of community groups and parents who will engage in local drug prevention efforts, increasing drug treatment, taking steps to improve the safety of our schools, and enhancing the security of our borders.

In 2001, the Federal Government will spend more than $18 billion on drug control activities. This is in addition to State and local government expenditures of equal, if not greater, amounts. Despite the extraordinary efforts of law enforcement, the military, teachers, medical professionals, treatment workers, and others, drug abuse is unacceptably high. While we show improvement in eliminating some of the harmful effects of drug abuse, a more comprehensive and accountable approach is needed.

As part of the development of the next National Drug Control Strategy, the Administration will review current approaches, with the goal of distinguishing areas that are yielding sufficient results from those areas that are not. In particular, the review will look closely at the relative emphasis on demand reduction and supply reduction activities, as well as the amounts invested in individual programs by the Federal Government. The Administration intends to develop a drug control strategy that adequately addresses the problem, and is evidence-based, cost effective, and affordable.

Teaching Our Children to Avoid the Trap of Drugs: The Administration will empower parents, and community and faith-based groups to fight drugs. A 1997 General Accounting Office study found that community coalitions, particularly those that implement a comprehensive approach that targets multiple aspects of youths' lives, represent a promising prevention method to prevent combat drug abuse by teenagers. The 2002 Budget will include $50 million, $10 million more than in 2001, for the Drug Free Communities Support Program to support the President's initiative. The budget also plans for larger increases in subsequent years. The increase will help reach the children in communities not benefiting from the current program, will encourage the development of community anti-drug coalitions in under-served areas, and assist coalitions, including faith leaders, that work together to reduce drug abuse in their communities. The 2002 Budget also includes $5 million in matching funds to mobilize a Parent Drug Corps to train parents in how to fight drug abuse.

Upgrading the Drug Free Workplace Program: The Drug Free Workplace Program gives grants to organizations that help small businesses develop employee education programs and company drug policies. To date, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has not been able to meet the demand for assistance from intermediary partners; in 1999 SBA received 160 grant applications from intermediaries, but issued only 16 grants. To help meet this need, the President's Budget includes $5 million and proposes to spend $25 million over the next five years.

Closing the Treatment Gap and Increasing Support for Effective Treatment: The budget provides assistance to those who have become dependent on drugs and helps them rebuild their lives and become productive members of the community. While the Administration proposes a variety of treatment initiatives, there are two main concerns the approaches must be evidence-based, and there must be real accountability for recipients.

The Administration's treatment-related initiatives include: increased funding for the National Institute on Drug Abuse's budget as part of the President's initiative to complete the doubling of the budget for the National Institutes of Health by 2003; providing $111 million of additional funding to increase access to substance abuse treatment and help to close the treatment gap, the difference between the number of individuals who would benefit from drug treatment and the number who receive it, by increasing funds for treatment-related programs; and targeting treatment to adolescents, a group identified by the Office of National Drug Control Policy as significantly underserved by existing treatment programs.

As part of the drug treatment initiative, the budget proposes $74 million ($11 million more than in 2001) for the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program, which provides formula grants supporting drug and alcohol treatment in State and local correctional facilities. Faith-based treatment programs will be eligible to compete for these funds.

The Administration will promote drug-free Federal prisons through on-going drug testing of all prisoners and treatment of eligible inmates. Currently, 100 percent of all eligible Federal inmates are enrolled in intensive drug treatment programs. Probationers and parolees are required to pass drug tests and receive treatment as a condition of remaining on the street.

Drug courts are an effective and cost efficient way to help non-violent drug offenders commit to a rigorous drug treatment program in lieu of prison. By leveraging the coercive power of the criminal justice system, drug courts can alter the behavior of non-violent, low-level drug offenders through a combination of judicial supervision, case management, mandatory drug testing, and treatment to ensure abstinence from drugs, and escalating sanctions. The Department of Justice will support local drug courts that combine drug testing with effective monitoring at the historically high 2001 level of $50 million.

Leading and Working with Our Foreign Allies Against Drugs: The drug cartels are among the most powerful criminal groups ever to operate on American soil. No effort to stop these powerful organizations can succeed without the ability to strike at the cartel's leadership and reach criminal activity that recognizes no national boundaries. These powerful criminal organizations also pose a threat to our democratic allies throughout the Western Hemisphere. Left unchecked, this violence and widespread corruption could seriously undermine the rule of law in Mexico and Colombia.

The 2002 Budget requests more than $500 million in new funding to maintain programs, provided in the 2000 emergency supplemental to support Plan Colombia. Any successful counterdrug strategy in the region must include funding to bring greater economic and political stability to the region and a peaceful resolution to Colombia's internal conflict.

The Administration is committed to full funding of the Western Hemisphere Drug Elimination Act. Through 2001, Congress has appropriated $1.6 billion. The 2002 Budget provides an additional $278 million to upgrade drug interdiction efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs Service. It provides funds for the acquisition, construction, and improvement of ships, planes, and equipment to enhance counternarcotics efforts in both source nations as well as the drug transit zone.

Improving Anti-Drug Technology: The Administration requests additional funding to provide new technology to improve interdiction and coordination among law enforcement. The 2002 Budget includes $40 million for the Counterdrug Technology Assessment Center, an increase of $4 million over 2001, to provide state-of-the-art tools to enhance the capabilities of State and local law enforcement agencies for counterdrug missions.

Bolstering Southwest Border Prosecutorial Resources: Thousands of Federal drug arrests occurring near the Southwest border are referred to county prosecutors because the quantity of drugs seized is too small to meet the threshold set by local U.S. Attorneys for Federal prosecution. The 2002 Budget provides an additional $50 million to assist counties near the Southwest border with the costs of prosecuting and detaining these referrals. U.S. Attorneys will also be directed to revise drug seizure thresholds warranting Federal prosecution, thereby increasing Federal drug trafficking prosecutions. Grants will be administered by the Department of Justice and awarded based on Southwest border county caseloads for processing, detaining, and prosecuting drug and alien cases referred from Federal arrests.

Continuing Methamphetamine Laboratory Cleanup: The production and use of methamphetamine (meth) have been on the rise over the past few years, and the number of meth laboratories has increased dramatically across the country. Meth lab enforcement and clean-up efforts are complicated by the presence of hazardous materials produced during the manufacturing process. Cleaning up these labs is a costly and risky business. State and local law enforcement agencies can be overwhelmed by the need to confront even one large laboratory. As meth dealers and drug organizations have targeted rural communities, many of the local law enforcement agencies have neither the expertise nor the resources to deal with this serious threat. The 2002 Budget includes $20 million to assist State and local law enforcement agencies with the costs associated with meth cleanup, along with $28 million to aid meth enforcement.

Incarcerating the Most Dangerous Drug Offenders: The budget includes $821 million for prison construction and placing newly-constructed Federal prisons into service and for contract bed space to prevent dangerous levels of overcrowding in Federal prisons. In addition, the budget includes $5 million to establish a faith-based, prison pre-release pilot program. The pilot will be hosted at four Federal prisons that are geographically diverse, encompass varying levels of security, and include both male and female inmate populations. The goal of the initiative is to reduce the recidivism rate among ex-offenders. The budget also includes $140 million to support additional detention beds to keep pace with the growth in the criminal and alien detainee population.

Establishing Project Sentry and Project Child Safe: The budget proposes a new Federal-State partnership by creating Safe Schools Task Forces across the country to coordinate better prosecutorial resources devoted to promoting school safety through appropriate firearms prosecutions. Project Sentry will devote $9 million annually to fund a dedicated juvenile gun prosecutor in each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys offices around the country. The State and local partnerships will be funded by $20 million in existing Department of Justice State and local Safe School grants.

Another partnership program will ensure that child safety locks are available for every handgun in America by providing $75 million annually in Federal matching funds through the Department of Justice. States and local governments will receive $65 million annually to assist the purchase and distribution of safety locks. The remaining $10 million will go to administrative costs and advertising, including a national toll-free telephone line, to make sure all parents are aware of the program.

Reallocating Grant Funding to Higher Priorities: The Administration seeks to finance some of the increases discussed above through selected reductions to State and local law enforcement grant programs. To a great degree, States and localities have proved themselves able to pursue vigorous law enforcement agendas without relying on Federal grant funding. For every dollar the Federal Government spends on criminal justice, State and local governments spend almost six, and Federal assistance makes up less than five percent of State and local law enforcement spending. For example, among the programs proposed for reduction are the State Prison Grant program, which has largely accomplished its goal of encouraging States to toughen their "truth in sentencing" laws; and non-formula Byrne grants, most of which are not awarded on a competitive basis, due to congressional earmarks.

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