New DEA Chief Signals New Approach

  New DEA Chief Signals New Approach

Posted by FoM on August 25, 2001 at 20:28:55 PT
Source: ABC News 

President Bush's new drug czar takes charge with a look at more fairness in prosecutions. President Bush's new drug czar signalled today that the administration may take a new approach to punishing drug offenders. Former Arkansas congressman Asa Hutchinson was officially sworn in this afternoon as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Hutchinson told the assembled crowd of family, friends and other law enforcement officials, "The task before us is daunting." But he promised to bring both a spirit of urgency and a sense of excellence to the job.
New Look While emphasizing that he doesn't think "something is out of whack" at the DEA, Hutchinson said he would consider new strategies.Hutchinson told reporters he believes "mandatory minimum" sentences have been effective in reducing the use of cocaine, in both crack and powder form. But he noted that as a member of Congress he'd been hesitant to expand such laws because they take discretion away from judges. The new DEA head said he supports a "safety valve" to let judges opt out in appropriate circumstances.Standards for punishing cocaine offenders also need refining, Hutchinson said. He believes the 100-to-1 disparity in sentences for crack and powder cocaine needs to be diminished.Current law allows someone caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine to be subject to the same penalty as another found with 500 grams of powder. Crack has been more often associated with poor and minority offenders.Hutchinson said the disparity and that "unfairness" need to be reduced, and he intends to work with Congress and others in the administration to find the "appropriate way" to do that.Reminding reporters the DEA is a law enforcement agency first, he added an important component of fighting illegal drugs must be reducing the demand. He said the DEA can provide leadership in both education and prevention. He pointed out, however, that the reason actor Robert Downey Jr. is currently enrolled in a rehabilitation plan is because of his earlier encounters with law enforcement. Court Appearance Hutchinson also expressed interest in drug courts and programs that offer treatment in lieu of incarceration for first-time, nonviolent offenders. He wants to "watch" such an ongoing program in California.But he noted two concerns: There must be adequate facilities, and there should be a drug-testing component, so that offenders can prove they are remaining clean.And in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling upholding federal laws that ban the use of marijuana, even for medicinal use, Hutchinson said he would work with Attorney General John Ashcroft to develop a strategy to enforce the nation's marijuana laws."It's important to send the right signal," he said, to make clear "we're not going to tolerate a violation of federal law."But he also pointed out there are "a lot of different aspects that we have to consider."He had earlier expressed sympathy for those who are in pain and believe marijuana helps, but pointed out that the scientific and medical community have found "no legitimate medical use" for the drug. Hutchinson Background Hutchinson was confirmed by a 98-1 vote of the Senate earlier this month.He had been a member of the House from Arkansas since first being elected in 1997.During impeachment proceedings against former President Clinton, Hutchinson, as a member of the House Judiciary committee, served as one of the prosecutors. From 1982 to 1985, he served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas. At age 31, he was the youngest ever U.S. Attorney.During that time he won a guilty plea to a drug charge from Roger Clinton, the former president's brother.The 50-year-old Hutchinson took the oath of office from Federal Judge Morris Arnold, also of Arkansas.In his first official day on the job, he praised the energy and dedication of his new employees"You try to beat these people to work and you can't do it," he said. "You try to leave after them and you can't do it."Beverley Lumpkin contributed to this report Source: ABCNews.comPublished: August 21, 2001Copyright: 2001 ABC News Internet VenturesWebsite: Articles:DEA Head Can Lead in a New Direction or Fail Drug Enforcement Chief Pledges a Tough Fight Head Says No to Medical Marijuana Articles - Asa Hutchinson 

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Comment #4 posted by JT420 on August 26, 2001 at 06:52:40 PT
They are using the wrong title...
ABC News keeps calling Hutchinson the Drug Czar. They should know better. The Drug Czar heads the ONDCP, not the DEA. John Walters is up for the position of Drug Czar.
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Comment #3 posted by Lehder on August 26, 2001 at 05:56:10 PT
I am totally umimpressed by the 98-1 vote in the Senate. How would Hutchinson fare in a popular vote?I have found that understanding our governemnt is much simplified by realizing that it is in fact a foreign government, as foreign and unrepresentative of our affairs as a people as is any other government on the planet. "Our" government is, after all, privately elected by multinational corporate money, and all its business is directed by that same money. We the people, like all the peoples of the planet, have only a single use to the government: exploitation. Our function is that of consumer and we are urged on the average more than 300 times per day to needlessly consume. Don't. If you really need something, go to the flea market, a garage sale, or a roadside stand.The rest of the world's peoples are also exploited either as consumers - markets, for example for the government's tobacco - or else as cheap labor. The markets and the labor, jobs gone from our own people forever, are guaranteed by the military and by economic intimidation. Foreign populations are but satellite peoples to be exploited as are we. If there are two people left who feel represented by government, then let them ask what is George W doing for them today? Who is pushing the buttons and operating the levers while he vacations in Texas? I'll tell you who: They are the same people who would in three seconds put a bullet in his head were he to threaten the sales of mind-bending hangover drugs like OTC sleep aids or legal whiskey by advocating legalization of marijuana.
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Comment #2 posted by rabblerouser on August 26, 2001 at 05:37:30 PT
Comment below probably should read 'would have tried', oops.
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Comment #1 posted by rabblerouser on August 26, 2001 at 04:57:40 PT
federal law
"We're not going to tolerate a violation of federal law."Before the Emancipation Proclamation, there was a federal law the made it illegal to teach a black person to read or write. I think Mr. Hutchinson would try to enforce such idiotic laws and he may still try. After the microscope was invented governments in Europe passed laws that made it illegal to own one.Narrow minded actions are imposed on the 'great unwashed' with great invasive zeal.Iraq might be a good place to emigrate. The leaders there have a better grip on reality. 
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