2. Initiatives to Reduce Drug-Related Crime and Violence
Our police forces continue to be on the first line of defense against crime and drugs. The more we can link law enforcement with local residents in positive ways that create trusting relationships, the more secure our communities will be. Resources provided by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program are bringing a 100,000 additional police officers to the nation by FY2000; already 70,000 additional officers are currently funded. The strength of the COPS program is its emphasis on long-term, innovative approaches to community-based problems. This program reinforces efforts that are already reducing the incidence of drug-related crime in America.
Coordination between Law Enforcement Agencies
Coordination between law enforcement agencies improves the efficacy of individual counter-drug efforts. By increasingly reinforcing one another; sharing information and resources; removing conflicts between operations, establishing common priorities, and focusing energies across the spectrum of criminal activities, we increase our overall capabilities. Various federal, state, and local agencies have joined forces on national as well as regional levels, to achieve better results. The federal government provides extensive support to state and local law enforcement agencies through the Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program. Grants support multi-jurisdictional task forces, demand-reduction education involving law enforcement officers, and other activities dealing with drug abuse and violent crime. Other major coordinating programs include:
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA): HIDTAs are critical drug-trafficking regions designated by the ONDCP Director in consultation with the Attorney General, heads of drug-control agencies, and governors, which receive federal assistance to design strategies to address the threats, and develop integrated initiatives. There are currently seventeen HIDTAs. In 1997, Southeastern Michigan and San Francisco were designated HIDTAs. In 1998, ONDCP will consider designating HIDTAs in central Florida (including Orlando and Tampa), the Milwaukee metropolitan area, and the marijuana-growing regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF): Established in 1982, these task forces, combining the expertise of nine federal agencies and state and local enforcement authorities, are an integral part of coordinated law-enforcement operations. OCDETF targets foreign and domestic trafficking organizations, money-laundering activities, gangs, and public corruption. For example, in 1997, OCDETF's operation META disrupted a large cocaine and methamphetamine organization active in California, North Carolina, and Texas. OCDETF also conducted successful operations against the Mexican Amado Carrillo Fuentes drug-trafficking organization, members of the Mexican Arrellano Felix organization and Nigerian heroin-smuggling organizations active in Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. OCDETF works closely with the individual HIDTA programs and is an important federal presence in HIDTA efforts.
Targeting Gangs and Violence
Initiatives targeting gangs and violent crime have reduced drug trafficking. Gangs are active in drug-distribution chains operating in the United States, and drug organizations frequently use violence. The Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI lead federal efforts to break up trafficking organizations. The FBI has established 157 Safe Street Task Forces to address violent crime, much of which is drug-related. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) also targets armed traffickers through the Achilles Program, which oversees twenty-one task forces in jurisdictions where drug-related violence is severe. HIDTAs and OCDETFs coordinate multi-agency attacks on criminal drug organizations.
Breaking the Cycle of Drugs and Violence
The correlation between drugs and crime is well established. Drug addicts are involved in approximately three to five times the number of crimes as arrestees who do not use drugs. Approximately three-fourths of prison inmates and over half of those in jails or on probation are substance abusers, yet only 10 to 20 percent of prison inmates participate in treatment while incarcerated. Simply punishing drug-dependent criminals is not enough. If crime is to be reduced permanently, addiction must be treated. Treatment while in custody, in prison, and under post-incarceration or release supervision can reduce recidivism by roughly 50 percent. ONDCP, DOJ, and HHS will sponsor two conferences on treatment and the criminal-justice system in March and October, 1998. The following initiatives are expanding treatment availability within the criminal justice system:
Drug courts: Drug courts have channeled sixty-five thousand nonviolent drug-law offenders into tough, court-supervised treatment programs instead of prisons or jails. On average, over 70 percent of drug-court participants stay in treatment. Among drug-court graduates, criminal recidivism ranges from 2 to 20 percent. More than 95 percent of this recidivism is made up of misdemeanors. Estimated savings range from $2,150,000 annually in Denver to an average of $6,455 per client in Washington, D.C. In 1997, 215 drug courts were operational, and 160 drug courts are now in the planning stages. As of November 1997, twenty-seven juvenile drug courts were operational and forty-six were in the planning process. The National Drug Court Institute -- established with support from ONDCP, DOJ and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals -- provides training for judges and professional staff.
"Breaking The Cycle" demonstration program: Initiated in Birmingham, Alabama in 1997, this program explores the viability of community-supervised rehabilitation instead of incarceration for drug-dependent offenders. During the first six months of the program, 4,602 offenders were screened and 784 became active participants. The National Institute of Justice is evaluating the program and will select additional communities for participation in 1998.
Violent Offender Incarceration and Truth-in-Sentencing Incentive Grant Program: The FY 1997 Appropriations Act requires states to implement drug testing, sanctions, and treatment program for offenders under corrections supervision by September 1, 1998. On January 12, 1998, the President directed the Attorney General to amend guidelines for prison construction grants and require state grantees to establish and maintain a system of reporting on their prison drug abuse problem. The 1999 Budget's proposed language would allow states to use federal grants for prison construction funds to provide a full range of drug testing, sanctions, and treatment.
Equitable Sentencing Policies
Community support is critical to the success of law enforcement. Sentencing structures that appear unfair undermine law enforcement. Consequently, in 1998, the Administration will seek to revise the cocaine penalty structure so that federal law enforcement will target major distributors of crack and powder cocaine rather than small, street-level dealers. This change will ensure the effective division of responsibility between federal, state, and local authorities. Present sentencing laws can misdirect federal law-enforcement resources against lower-level street dealers, instead of the large-scale drug trafficking operations where such resources are best targeted. Second, the current sentencing scheme, which punishes crack offenses much more severely than powder offenses, has fostered a perception of racial injustice in the court system. Closing of the sentencing gap will help eliminate this perception, thereby strengthening our legal system.
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