WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With violent crime rates reaching a 15 year record high according to new FBI figures and most prisoners testing positive for drugs, the new Congress must expand drug treatment in prisons, said Bob Weiner, former spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. "The failure of federal, state, and local governments to provide treatment to the prison drug abusing population is a disproportionately large factor in the nation's new crime wave. It's a missed target."
Weiner and Bangs argue that a 34% federal drug prevention budget cut since 2001, from $19.2 billion to $12.7 billion, is a major explanation for the 2.5% violent crime increase nationwide, and 3.4% increase in Buffalo, NY in 2005. Buffalo is also near the world famous Attica correctional facility. An Attica staff member told Weiner that "Attica is not a drug-specific prison." Say Weiner and Bangs: "That's the problem. All prisons should be; none is."
Weiner and Bangs note that according to DOJ statistics, 68% of female and 67% of male arrestees tested positive for illegal narcotics compared to 6% use in the population as a whole. Yet only 14% of federal inmates who met the criteria for drug dependency received treatment from a trained professional, and only 39% of all drug dependent inmates participated in drug programs.
Weiner and Bangs state, "A rising tide of abuse of prescription drugs has exacerbated the problem and the need for action." They report "a tripling over the last five years in abuse of opiate painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Codeine, Morphine and Fentanyl."
The writers affirm benefits of drug treatment and prevention: "Nine months after beginning therapy, 87% of patients treated for heavy or long-term methamphetamine abuse in California outpatient and residential programs were abstinent from all drugs," and nationally, "every $1 invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return of between $4 and $7 in reduced drug- related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft."
Weiner and Bangs note the $10 million contribution to drug treatment by philanthropist George Soros. The authors conclude, "Once upon a time the United States criminal justice system, not philanthropists, made criminal rehabilitation a fiscal responsibility."
Weiner and Bangs wrote an op-ed article in the December 17, 2006 Buffalo News, http://www.weinerpublic.com/20061217.html , "Prison drug treatment can curb violent crime resurgence".
CONTACT: Bob Weiner, Richard Bangs, Rebecca VanderLinde 301-283-0821, 202-329-1700
SOURCE Robert Weiner Associates