Justice Dept. Ends Testing of Criminals for Drugs

Justice Dept. Ends Testing of Criminals for Drugs
Posted by CN Staff on January 28, 2004 at 15:14:05 PT
By Fox Butterfield
Source: New York Times 
The Justice Department has quietly ended a program to measure criminals' use of drugs and forecast new drug epidemics, citing budget cuts by Congress.The program, the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program, or ADAM, tests newly arrested criminals entering jail for narcotics violations in 35 cities. Attorney General Edwin Meese 3d, in the Reagan administration, started it in 1986.
Law enforcement officials and criminal justice experts criticized ending the program, saying it was a useful tool in the battle against crime and drugs and was widely credited for tracking the rise and fall of the crack epidemic and detecting the beginning of the methamphetamine epidemic on the West Coast."This is a real loss," said Mark A. R. Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, who is editor of The Drug Policy Analysis Bulletin. "Closing down ADAM indicates a complete lack of seriousness about getting a handle on the drug abuse problem in this country." Sarah V. Hart, director of the National Institute of Justice, a research arm of the Justice Department, said she had decided to stop the program because of a lack of money. The budget that Congress passed last week grants the institute $6 million a year in discretionary money for social science research, Ms. Hart said, down from $20 million for the 2003 fiscal year. The tests for drugs in jail alone costs $8.4 million a year. "We can't put every dime into one methodology for drug testing," Ms. Hart said. "We have obligations to do research in many other areas of the criminal justice system," including the court system, helping prosecutors manage caseloads and reducing domestic violence. A number of law enforcement officials and drug experts questioned the institute's support for the program and said the Justice Department and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy should have lobbied Congress harder for money to continue the testing."Nobody I know, including me, has been able to get Sarah Hart to answer a phone call or e-mail about ADAM in months," said Bruce Johnson, an official with the National Development and Research Institutes Inc. in New York who manages the jail tests in Manhattan.Ms. Hart said she had approached officials of the Bureau of Justice Statistics, outside the ADAM program, and asked them to come up with a smaller, less-expensive version. One of those officials, Allen J. Beck, said that he had been working for months to develop such a program but that the lack of financing now made it impossible to start even that smaller program. Professor Kleiman said ending ADAM reflected what he and other drug experts said was a misallocation of resources in the fight against drugs. The government, he said, is paying $50 million a year through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for a household survey on drug use. The survey asks people to report drug abuse voluntarily and does not require urine tests, as the jail program does. In addition, the survey is conducted among people who may use drugs only recreationally, Professor Kleiman said.As a result, the household survey detects about 30 tons of cocaine use a year, he said, when the real total consumption is close to 300 tons. "The household survey is missing about 90 percent of the cocaine that is used," Professor Kleiman said.A reason the survey misses so much drug use, he said, is that "the great bulk of cocaine is consumed by heavy users, three-quarters of whom are criminally active." Those are the people counted in the jail program.Professor Kleiman noted that ending the jail program occurred as President Bush, in his State of the Union address last week, called for spending an additional $23 million to test students for drugs. Professor Kleiman said that students consumed relatively small quantities of hard drugs and that no studies showed that school-based testing deterred drug use. "With that $23 million, we could run ADAM for three years," he said.But a spokeswoman for the White House, Claire Buchan, said Mr. Bush believed that "drug testing has been shown to be effective in stopping students from taking drugs."An official of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy said that he had "enormous respect" for the jail testing but that budget realities had forced the administration to rethink it. The administration is working on a leaner, less expensive version that will provide a national estimate of drug use among criminals, something that the current program did not do, because its figures are local.Complete Title: Justice Dept. Ends Testing of Criminals for Drug UseSource: New York Times (NY)Author: Fox ButterfieldPublished: January 28, 2004Copyright: 2004 The New York Times Co.Contact: letters Website: Drug Testing Archives
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on January 28, 2004 at 16:51:32 PT:
One thing the article left unsaid
And it's the most embarrassing part of all: drugs in prisons.Think about it, friends: in as micromanaged and repressive an environemnt as prison, inmates are being tested for drugs regularly. Now, you'd think that they they couldn't get any, but each test conducted proves that many have no trouble at all acquiring illicit drugs in prison.The VERY FACT that they *have* to test in prison AT ALL is as stark an admission of DrugWar failure as could possibly be made. But it is never trumpeted to the masses, who are too busy just surviving the national shipwreck that is the Busch Regime to register the screaming obvious. But people who think about these things *do* know. Many are antis. The rest are ourselves.Now, imagine what it says, budget wise: a waste of money. Tell someone who's lost her job to cheap labor imports and factory closings, who's about to be evicted, who's got an empty stomach herself and 4 kids to feed - how important it is to spend millions on testing arrestees and prison inmates for drugs...but have no money for social programs.These two embarrassing facts make for such guiltily quiet policy decisions made by a cynical, morally bankrupt regime during a bitter election in hard times.
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Comment #2 posted by cloud7 on January 28, 2004 at 15:56:24 PT
new type of drug test
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Comment #1 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 28, 2004 at 15:38:22 PT:
Give Me A Break
 "Closing down ADAM indicates a complete lack of seriousness about getting a handle on the drug abuse problem in this country." Do these guys actually believe their own lies?On another note, I alwasy assumed that the government would "quietly" make the prohibition policies and initiatives go away. Perhpas Bush's overspending could be a good thing for legalization.
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