President Maintains Bush Administration Ratio Favoring Punishment Over Treatment
Just Weeks Ago, Obama Said We Need to "Shift Resources" But He Didn't Do It
WASHINGTON, DC -- A group of police officers, judges and prosecutors who have waged the so-called "war on drugs" is criticizing President Obama because his federal drug control budget, released today, doesn't match up to his rhetoric on treating drug abuse as a health problem.
Obama's federal drug control budget maintains a Bush-era disparity devoting nearly twice as many resources to punishment as it does for treatment and prevention, despite his saying less than three weeks ago that, “We have to think more about drugs as a public health problem," which requires "shifting resources." The president's comments came during a January 27 YouTube interview, in response to a question from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition member MacKenzie Allen, a retired deputy sheriff. Video of that exchange is available at http://www.youtube.com/CopsSayLegalizeDrugs
"I don't understand how the president can tell us with a straight face that he wants to treat drugs as a health issue but then turn around just a few weeks later and put out a budget that continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction," said Neill Franklin, LEAP executive director and a former narcotics officer in Baltimore. "The president needs to put his money where his mouth is. Right now it looks like he's simply all talk and no game."
In releasing the drug control budget today, the administration did reverse a Bush-era accounting trick that hid some costs of the "war on drugs," such as incarceration. But the drug control budget breakdown, available online at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/policy/12budget/fy12Highlight.pdf, clearly shows that under both the new and old calculations, supply reduction receives far more resources than demand reduction does.
"The Obama administration does deserve credit for bringing to light some of the costs of the 'war on drugs' that the Bush administration tried to obscure from public scrutiny," said Franklin. "But mere accounting changes aren't going to reduce our prison population, improve our economy or put violent gangs and cartels out of business. Only real changes to drug policy, like legalizing and regulating drugs, can help us achieve those important goals."
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 14, 2011
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