|Task Force Recommendations
Written by Administrator
|Monday, 03 May 2010 00:00
Task Force Recommendations
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I. Pursue Alternative Models in Establishing
Future Drug Policy
- Replace emphasis on "penal" based approach to drug policy with "medical" or other alternative policy models, which view substance abuse and related problems as primarily a public health issue.
- Improve and expand drug treatment, vocational support and diversionary programs, utilizing extensive cost savings derived in transition from cost-intensive "penal" based approach to drug policy.
- Adopt a more rational and compassionate approach to drug policy, founded upon the humane treatment of substance abusers and their families, and placing emphasis on assisting those drug users who need treatment in obtaining such treatment, rather than emphasizing arrest, prosecution and incarceration as a solution.
- Integrate drug treatment centers with other community based health facilities, so as to bring substance abusers in need of treatment within the health care system.
- Expand methadone maintenance programs and apply resources saved in transition from a "penal" based policy, to support empirical research on effective treatments of substance abuse problems.
- Apply cost-benefit analysis for all drug control policies implemented, to ensure that any such policy is unlikely to cause more harm than use of the substance(s) prohibited.
- Consider alternative drug policy models which would allow for government regulation and quality control for currently designated "controlled substances," in an effort to further reduce health risks associated with purchase and consumption of unsafe adulterated drugs from illegal, unregulated drug markets.
- Seriously study and consider alternative drug policy models, which attempt to remove huge profits which drive the illegal drug trade, in an effort to decrease the harms associated with "drug prohibition."
- For those controlled substances which may be "decriminalized," (e.g., marijuana), replace penal sanctions with government regulation and appropriate taxation.
- Allow states to experiment with alternative approaches to drug policy, including non-penal based models.
- Study alternative drug policies, including experimental programs conducted in the U.S. and abroad, in an attempt to arrive at the best, most helpful and cost-effective system available.
- Develop and encourage pilot programs and alternative approaches to substance abuse issues with close monitoring.
- Create state and federal commissions, including representatives from each of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of national and local governments, to recommend substantial and cohesive changes in drug policy.
II. Provide Immediate Sentencing Relief and Additional
Judicial Discretion in Criminal Prosecution of Drug Cases
- Repeal mandatory minimum sentencing statutes for non-violent drug offenders.
- Revise draconian drug laws, downgrading the category of "non-violent" narcotics offenses to levels more commensurate with the seriousness of these offenses in relation to other crimes.
- Expand judicial discretion in sentencing drug offenders on both the state and federal levels, permitting judges to sentence individual defendants in a manner suitable to the circumstances of the offense and the offender.
- Where appropriate, permit downward modification of sentences for "drug mules" and other low-level participants in drug transactions.
- Subject to constitutional protections, provide for statutory relief for presently incarcerated drug offenders, modifying sentences to reflect proposed amendments to drug laws.
- To the extent criminalization of use and sale of controlled substances remains in place, avoid the present system's over-reliance on weight-based criteria in drug prosecutions, reserving more serious penalties for sales where aggravating factors exist, such as sale to children or use of violence in trade.
- Establish and improve diversionary and treatment programs and other alternative-to-incarceration programs for non-violent drug offenders. Encourage increased utilization of probation department resources toward facilitating expanded use of such programs by courts in sentencing drug offenders.
III. Reduce the Harms Associated With Substance Abuse
and Drug Prohibition
- Move from policy of "zero tolerance," to one incorporating "harm reduction" principles, accepting the reality that marijuana and common recreational drugs, and other potentially harmful substances (including alcohol and tobacco), have always, and will continue to be consumed by some members of society, and concentrate efforts on reducing the harms associated with such use.
- Adjust policing priorities to concentrate enforcement efforts on curtailing and preventing violent criminal conduct, rather than emphasis on the apprehension and imposition of penal sanctions for use and consumption of drugs.
- Reduce the risk of young people coming into contact with the "hard" drug market by separating it out from the "soft" drug market.
- Expand availability of accurate information and education about harms which may be associated with drug use and substance abuse and ways to minimize those harms.
- Promote needle exchange programs and repeal drug paraphernalia laws, in order to curtail the spread of AIDS and other similarly transmitted diseases.
- Initiate measures and revise laws to promote, rather than hinder access of substance abusers to medical and other care, as may be needed.
- Assure doctor-patient privilege/confidentiality for those seeking treatment for substance abuse, pre-natal care and other forms of health care, to prevent fear of prosecution, removal of children from homes and other potential repercussions which discourage individuals from utilizing health care facilities.
IV. Concentrate Law Enforcement Resources on
Reducing Violent Crime and Prosecution of
Violent Criminal Offenders
- Reallocate law enforcement resources currently dedicated to the prosecution of non-violent drug offenders, toward prosecution of violent crime.
- Concentrate and redirect efforts of police, FBI, and other state, local and federal law enforcement agencies on investigation and arrest of violent criminal offenders.
- Reserve harsh sentencing laws, together with law enforcement, prosecution, court and prison resources for dealing with violent criminal offenders.
- Reject the notion that law enforcement efforts can eliminate drug use in our society, and redirect such policing efforts toward concentration on violence and community disruption.
- Attempt to eliminate causes of violent crime related to the lucrative illicit drug trade, by adopting policies which seek to remove huge profits from drug dealing and underworld black market narcotics distribution.
V. Reshape the Drug Policy Debate -- Return to
Objective Analysis and Realistic Goals
- Commence objective, rational, non-partisan, and interdisciplinary review of current drug policy, with emphasis on realistic and appropriate goals to be achieved in dealing with problems of harmful drug use and substance abuse. Devise reasonable and compassionate means of addressing such problems.
- Establish constructive dialogue on drug policy reform, taking care to adopt terminology which distinguishes between harms caused by substance abuse per se and those harms caused by drug control policies themselves.
- Avoid use of the "drug problem" as "catch-all" for other societal ailments, in an effort to engage in a rational and honest dialogue on the development of a responsible drug policy.
- Carefully analyze, for scientific validity, claims of causal nexus between use of controlled substances and specific criminal activities.
- In analyzing causes of "drug-related" crime, identify and distinguish between criminal activity caused by: (i) use or abuse of psychoactive substances; (ii) the lucrative black-market drug trade; and (iii) implementation of current drug policy. Devise realistic policies which reduce, rather than perpetuate violence and other criminal activity.
- Undertake an accurate, scientific analysis of the pharmacological makeup, uses and effects and dangers of any given drug (controlled or otherwise), in order to inform the determination of a rational and appropriate policy for regulation, use and treatment of such drug.
- Evaluate how policies presently employed, with emphasis on arrest, prosecution and incarceration, work either to provide assistance, or to cause further harm, to those individuals who use drugs, their families and communities.
- Commence constructive dialogue distinguishing between substance abuse and drug use generally, in order to develop appropriate and cost-effective goals and policies relating to government, medical or other intervention into lives of citizens, minimizing involuntary intervention absent clear and compelling necessity.
VI. Implement Public Education Campaign on
Drug Use and Substance Abuse
- Increase access to and availability of accurate information about the harms associated with types of drug use and of substance abuse.
- Provide access to information about safe use of controlled substances, in the absence of abstinence, and ways to reduce harms associated with such use.
- Counteract inaccurate, misleading and divisive "drug war" propaganda, which has characterized many drug education campaigns initiated by advocates of "zero tolerance" drug policy.
VII. Decriminalize Marijuana
- Decriminalize marijuana, accepting that the economic and social costs of enforcing penal sanctions for possession of this relatively harmless drug can no longer be justified.
- If not decriminalized, where medically recommended, permit the medical use of marijuana and other controlled substances which have been determined by the medical community to be therapeutically beneficial.
VIII. Reverse Encroachments on Civil Rights and
Restore "Due Process of Law"
- Repeal draconian sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenses, which deprive individuals of an opportunity to contest charges at trial due to risk of extensive and unreasonable periods of incarceration.
- In recognition of inherent rights to privacy and personal autonomy, reevaluate whether, and to what degree, government intervention is appropriate and justifiable with respect to casual use of drugs by its citizens.
- Restore a broader application of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment prohibition of unjustifiable search and seizure by government, eliminating the "drug exception" to the Constitution which has created unacceptable invasions of privacy and personal freedom.
- Severely curtail civil forfeiture laws, to permit government restraint of property only upon "reasonable cause," and allow for forfeiture of only those assets directly traceable to criminal transactions, obtained as such with knowledge of the owner of the property to be forfeited, and which laws are enforceable only upon prior notice and with the meaningful right to contest, in accordance with "due process of law".
IX. Provide Alternative Social and Economic
Opportunity for Inner City Youth
- Declare war on causes of substance abuse, including: poverty; lack of education; lack of economic opportunity; family crises and; financial, emotional and physical instability.
- Utilize substantial savings anticipated from moving from cost-intensive "penal based" model of drug policy, to provide greater educational, vocational and recreational opportunities for youth at risk of becoming involved in the illegal drug trade.
- Expand and implement affirmative action programs designed to increase educational, economic and career opportunities for minority youth.
- Encourage public and private investment in poor communities to provide greater economic opportunities in the legitimate job market.
X. End War on Youth and Inner City Communities --
Restore Confidence and Integrity in Government
- End discriminatory enforcement of drug laws in inner city communities, which fall most heavily on young people of color.
- Take measures to reduce violence associated with drug prohibition and the lucrative, illicit drug trade it fosters.
- Take measures to avoid placing police at "war" with inner city youth, as results from current drug laws and enforcement policies, and work to build positive alliances between police, minority communities and their youth.
- Restore confidence in government by having it assist and work with those in need, by creation of positive vocational, educational, recreational and other programs, in place of current emphasis upon arrests, prosecution and incarceration which prevails as a result of present drug policy.
- Equalize penal sanctions applicable to crack-cocaine users and powder-cocaine users, while reducing draconian penalties presently applicable to each.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 January 2011 23:05