Gore Steers to the Center With Anti-Crime Proposal

Gore Steers to the Center With Anti-Crime Proposal
Posted by FoM on May 02, 2000 at 08:48:51 PT
By James Gerstenzang, Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
Politics: Vice president will unveil plan to meld law enforcement, drug and gang programs and victims' rights. Program would cost $1.3 billion a year. Moving to delineate differences with George W. Bush while setting himself apart from "the old Democratic approach," Al Gore plans to outline an anti-crime program today that melds stepped up law enforcement, drug and gang programs and victims' rights measures. 
  The vice president will propose a federal program that would spend $500 million a year--with the states matching the money--to fight the use of drugs in state and local prisons. It would expand drug-rehabilitation programs within the institutions, keep prisoners behind bars if they are still using drugs when their sentences end, and return to prison parolees who fail periodic drug tests.   This "stay-out, stay-clean" form of enforced abstinence was presented as the centerpiece of Gore's program by a Clinton administration official familiar with the vice president's plans.   Gore, in a speech at a YMCA in Atlanta, will also call for federal funding to put an additional 50,000 police officers on American streets, continuing a program already favored by the administration.   In excerpts of his text provided to The Times, Gore pledges to "intensify the battle against crime, drugs and disorder in our communities."   He says he would launch "a sweeping anti-crime strategy" that would neither "surrender to the right-wing Republicans who threaten funding for new police and tried to gut crime prevention," nor return "to the old Democratic approach, which was tough on the causes of crime but not tough enough on crime itself."   "I will reform a justice system that spills half a million prisoners onto our streets each year, many of them addicted to drugs, unrehabilitated and just waiting to commit another crime," he says. "I will put the rights of victims and families first again and I will push for more crime prevention to stop the next generation of crime before it's too late.   "I believe we should make prisoners a simple deal: Before you get out of jail, you have to get clean, and if you want to stay out, then you'd better stay clean," he says.   The effort to restrict drug use in prisons and among parolees represents both the greatest departure from current policy and a new campaign directed at the heart of the nation's drug problem. According to an administration official familiar with Gore's plan, 50% of the users of heroin and cocaine in the United States are within the jurisdiction of its justice system, either as prisoners or parolees.   Other than the prison drug policy, Gore's speech covers issues that largely have been suggested by the administration before. Overall, Gore would spend approximately $1.3 billion on the anti-crime programs, a modest increase over current spending. The administration sought that same amount for anti-crime programs last year and was granted slightly less than $1 billion by Congress.   Among other elements in the program, Gore, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, will seek renewal of an expired 1994 program that locked in funding for programs combating violent crime and would provide federal assistance for the establishment of gang-free zones. These would be created under federal court injunctions banning the wearing of gang-related clothing in specific areas and imposing curfews on gang members there.   Overall, even as the crime rate continues to drop, the Gore measures would push the federal government further into an area that has traditionally belonged to state and local authorities.   "Al Gore believes that in an era where gangs and crime have no boundaries, the local sheriff shouldn't have to fight the battle alone, and the federal government has a responsibility to give state and local law enforcement more tools," said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.   The vice president will also offer support for a constitutional amendment that would give crime victims greater rights within the criminal justice system.   In his speech, Gore outlines philosophical differences with Bush on crime-control measures, chastising Bush for what he says is an approach that would lessen the federal role and, in the words of an administration official, keep "the revolving door of drugs and crime going by failing to make sure that criminals first get clean before they get out of jail."   Responding to Gore's plan, the Republican campaign argued that Bush, as governor of Texas, has shown innovations in fighting drug use in prisons, while the number of beds in federal prisons available for drug treatment has dropped by one-third during the Clinton administration.   "The vice president's newfound enthusiasm as being a crime fighter underscores why he has a problem with credibility," said Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett. "His record on crime doesn't match his rhetoric."   He pointed out that the vice president is making the speech--on his schedule for several days--at a time when a CNN poll found "the American people favor Bush by 20% on the issue of who would best handle the issue of crime."   Overall, that poll gave Bush a 49% to 44% lead over Gore, within its 5-percentage-point margin of error.   Gore's speech is one in a series the vice president is giving over a period of several weeks intended to draw a distinction with the Texas governor as Bush, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, moves to present himself as a candidate comfortable with the centrist domestic policies of mainstream America.   Among a number of criminal justice experts, the key to keeping former inmates off drugs is treatment and rehabilitation of addicts while in prison.   "You're going to have to do something on the front end," said Anthony Borbon, associate director of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, run by the county's Department of Health Services. "You're kind of putting the flagpole up too late if you wait until they're up for parole" to test inmates.   The proposals to toughen federal anti-gang laws were met with skepticism among some juvenile justice advocates, who said more attention needs to be paid to the sources of gang violence.   "Everyone wants to take a swing at gangs and crime," said David Steinhart, director of Commonweal, a juvenile justice reform program. "Most of [the ideas] are politically inspired. Every politician has to be tougher than the last guy.   "When you want to get at the root of gang problems, you have to clean up the world gangs come from. That means early intervention and prevention."   The effort to restrict drug use in prisons and among parolees represents both the greatest departure from current policy and a new campaign directed at the heart of the nation's drug problem.   According to an administration official, 50% of the users of heroin and cocaine in the United States are within the jurisdiction of its justice system, either as prisoners or parolees.   The focus on drug treatment in prison is crucial, Gore says, because "when inmates are sent back onto the streets unrehabilitated, unrepentant and unskilled, then they're just going to commit more crime and go right back to prison. We have to stop that revolving door once and for all."   Times staff writer Matea Gold in Los Angeles contributed to this story.  Published: May 2, 2000  Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times CannabisNews Articles On Al Gore:
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Comment #7 posted by dddd on May 03, 2000 at 02:39:31 PT
I found this in Observers' link,and I thought it was excellent. Commentary - 3/1/00By Nicholas RegushI have a compassionate idea. Maybe even a great idea. Why don't we pass legislationto involuntarily commit severely obese people to enforced drug therapy in thecommunity? This might help them shed those many extra pounds.And while we're in the judicial mode, why don't we pass laws that will scoop upthree-pack-a-day smokers from the streets and get them on medication?In fact, forced drug treatment could be used on all sorts of disabled people whoshow a lack of intention to get themselves on the road to health.And if those beneficiaries of our largesse do not turn up at clinics to get theirdrugs, then we could send medical treatment squads into their homes.This would not only be a kindly move, but let's face it, all those people who are illand don't want to do something about it are costing the health care system a hugewad of money. This is not good for society.Compliance with medical authority is everything! Non-compliance must bestopped!Culture of Drug TherapyAm I serious? No, I'm not. But I'm concerned that we're creating a culture thatwill continue to spawn medical ideology that sees forced drug therapy as some kindof a moral duty.Medical authorities are already applying this type of spin in psychiatrictreatment.Last week, I questioned the insidious and highly promoted notion that lack oftreatment of psychiatric patients in the community leads to more violence. Irepeat: there is no evidence for this mangled interpretation of the available data.Anyone who touts this violence nonsense grossly misunderstands how drug therapyof any kind must be viewed in the context of a total health-care approach. Inpsychiatry, it means understanding drug therapy in relation to community-basedservices. Unfortunately, the lack of sustained community treatment services inmost parts of this country throws the care of psychiatric patients badly out ofwhack.Need for Community ServicesSuch services were never provided in the first place when droves of patientsbegan leaving psychiatric state hospitals several decades ago to live as outpatients.Too much emphasis was placed then (as is the case now) on the power of drugs toset things right for these patients. Instead of bolstering community supportsystems, the judicial system has become more actively engaged in forcing therapy.And whenever there is a system change in medicine as audacious as the move tomanaged care, one can expect disruptions not only in doctor-patient relationships,but in access to services.Those who advocate forced treatment are the desperados of modern medicine. Theycan no longer see human behavior in context. They have sold out to the "magicbullet" society, in which drugs have become the proclaimed cure-all for almosteverything. This is not to say that drugs can't help certain individuals. They mostcertainly do. But often that help must be provided with a medical system thatcares for a wide spectrum of human needs.But frankly, I might as well be screaming at the wind. My take on the drugenforcement trend in psychiatry is that it reflects an authoritarian trend that isstinking up a lot of medicine. Some of my previous columns, for example, havefocused on forced treatment of children with HIV and improper use ofanti-depression drugs in children. The outlandish use of Ritalin to quell whatoften is normal childhood energy in the classroom is yet another example of thequick fix mentality that is becoming more the norm.While I would never advocate that the severely obese and the three-pack-a-daysmokers be placed on forced drug regimens, it wouldn't surprise me in the leastthat we'll see the day come when this will be strongly advocated and even widelyapplied. I'm not kidding about this.
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Comment #6 posted by dddd on May 02, 2000 at 17:02:37 PT
Here we go again
Get ready everybody.Bore and Gush are going to try and out tough each other,and throw massive quantities of money into enforcement,which is already swimming in cash.A "wasted vote",is one for Bore or Gush,because it will give you 4 more years of the "Good ol' boy regime".Our worst crime problem is in the government.Talk about gangs!The place we really need to start policing is Capitol Hill.That's where the true world class crimes are committed.......dddd
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Comment #5 posted by Suspect Stereotype on May 02, 2000 at 14:54:58 PT
Voting Green
I have to go along with fivepounder on this. Bush and Gore are both cut from the same hypocritial cloth. I'm also going to vote Green this go-round. I don't concider it a "wasted" vote or a "protest" vote. While I don't hold any real hope that Nader will be the next president, I have to vote for what I believe in and the Greens come closest to that. It's my belief that WoD facism and American Democracy are opposing ideologies. Like some substances, when they are combined, they create a volatile situation. It's only a matter of time before critical mass is achieved and the whole shootin' match goes Kablooie. After that only one ideology will stand. I hope that our country and our freedom will survive.I would also like to inject at this point that the entity that would suffer most from ending the WoD is the so-called "drug kingpin". Those who have amassed huge fortunes from prohibition. They are also the ones who benefit from current forfeture laws. The loss of a car or a house or even a million dollars is nothing to them. They get caught, squeel off on their underlings or their competition, and they get a reduced charge or they walk and the cops keep the money. How much and to whom would these persons be willing to pay to keep the situation just the way it is?Just a thoughtPeaceSS 
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Comment #4 posted by Tim Stone on May 02, 2000 at 13:49:21 PT
I hate to use the word, "pandering" in reference to Gore's position paper here, but what the hey, everybody else is using the word to describe some of his recent positions. I read this as a jelly-kneed attempt to on the one hand sound like he's not quite as insane about the drug war as everybody else in power purports to be, while being very careful not to antagonize any of the powerful drug war interests whose support he cannot afford to alienate. Kind of a poor showing, IMHO, but about what one can expect, given the crazy system of campaigning we have.Looks like we can add Gore to the list of presidential candidates who _know better gadfrikketydarnit_ yet feel compelled to avoid at all costs touching the "third rail" of politics by appearing "soft of drugs" and so profess support for status quo drug war.Each new generation of politicians is caught by the drug war lies of previous generations of politicians. They dare not declare the Emperor to be naked because when the drug war finally ends, when people finally catch on to how badly they have been lied to and how poorly the drug war has served _true_ national interests, there will be political hell to pay with an aroused electorate, and the new politicians don't want to be the one stuck holding the hot potato when the music finally stops. No matter how noble-minded a new politician may be in private, it's far safer just to go along to get along. 
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Comment #3 posted by fivepounder on May 02, 2000 at 11:45:03 PT
Gore's bull
If 50% of those using hard drugs are in prison or parolle, then why is it so easy for those IN THE SYSTEM to get the 'drugs' in the first place? Could it be because the drug war to a total failure?  And we are not going to test until they are ready to be released ? That makes alot of sense. This is the formula for us all to get caught up. How far away are we from everyone taking a periodic drug test so that we are allowed to do whatever they decide to restrict. Like say buying a carton of milk. Gore WHO HAS TOKED is a pig, a phoney, and worst of all a politician. I'm voting for Nader.
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Comment #2 posted by observer on May 02, 2000 at 10:22:50 PT
Drug Addicts (I.e. MJ Smokers)
> Drug addiction is a medical, not criminal, issueYes, and moreover, they are talking about marijuana primarily here, although they won't admit it. The old bait and switch: talk about "addiction" and "drugs", so the audience will think "heroin and crack addicts", but don't say too much about how this applies and is intended mainly for cannabis users. Marijuana smokers get locked up, lose their home and all property just for using a single marijuana cigarette (you're a dealer if you pass it to a friend of course), and forced treatment once they're "in the system". Great formula to expand the prison industrial complex, have a ready supply of slave labor, and extend government control over the lives of everyone. What's there not to like about all of this, if you benefit from more government power? (Oh no, this is rarely made explicit.) More laws, more control, more opportunity for corruption. A bureaucrat's wet dream. Oh yeah, all for "the children."re: "slave labor" (UNICOR) forced "treatment" 
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on May 02, 2000 at 09:11:51 PT
too bad...
I was holding out for Gore to inject at least a little sense into the current deplorable policies, but this looks like more of the same. "Lock 'em up till they're sober" has never worked, and will not now.Drug addiction is a medical, not criminal, issue, and "stay out and stay clean" will just be another barbaric waste of government power and resources. It's already well known that jailing addicts as "punishment" is not a solution (isn't a debilitating heroin addiction punishment enough?), and even McBizarro is starting to come around on that.I just wish the Libertarians had a fighting chance for the Presidency. Their policies make much more sense than current Republi-Crat laws. But, until the media alludes that parties other than Republican and Democrat exist, it will be business as usual. Gore is still my favored candidate over the hypocritical, issue-dodging GWBush, but I had hoped for something more innovative than this from him.
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