FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thurs., June 29, 2006
Weiner/Virginia Wattiker 301-283-0821 or 202-329-1700
Record Violent Crime Rise, Anti-Drug Funding Drop Linked,
says Ex-White House Drug Spokesman Robert Weiner;
FBI reports highest violent crime increase in 15 years
as drug control budget slashed over one-third since 2001
(Washington, DC) -- “This month the FBI reported the highest one-year increase in violent crime rates in 15 years — back to the frightening situation which challenged the Clinton administration in its first year. But the FBI’s analysis of its crime figures and media reports neglected the clear connection between drugs and crime,” writes Robert Weiner, the former spokesman for the White House Drug Policy Office (1995-2001), in an op-ed today in the Memphis Commercial Appeal co-authored with Virginia Wattiker, a North Carolina State University student and policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates, a public affairs issues firm in Washington, DC.
In the piece, titled “Budget cuts in drug prevention push crime up”, Weiner and Wattiker assert, “The Administration’s anti-drug budget has been slashed over one-third from $19.2 billion in 2001 to $12.7 billion for 2007. This reduced budget for the federal government’s comprehensive drug-fighting initiatives, including education, prevention and treatment programs as well as enforcement efforts, is a genuine threat to our national security.”
“The link between drugs and crime is irrefutable,” they say, pointing to current budget figures and crime statistics from the Department of Justice. “68 percent of female arrestees and 67 percent of male arrestees tested positive for illegal drugs according to DOJ’s latest figures for over 30 cities, compared to 6% drug use in the population as a whole. The violent crimes reported nationally last year included about 16,900 murders, a 4.8 percent increase over 2004 and the highest percentage increase in 15 years. This rise in crime can be at least partially attributed to these drastic cuts in our drug budget.”
They contend, “While the war in Iraq and homeland security issues have dominated the headlines, federal budget cuts have downsized anti-drug efforts in favor of increases in military funding to some $500 billion annually.”
According to Weiner and Wattiker, “Continuing to take money from counter-drug programs will be as deadly to our society as failing to fund prevention of a terrorist attack. An estimated 19.1 million individuals in the United States have abused drugs during the past month, according to federal statistics. This is an extremely serious problem that causes an estimated 17,000 deaths a year - on top of the associated crime.”
Memphis' violent crime rate jumped 25 percent between 2004 and 2005, with the number of reported murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults growing from 10,093 to 12,630.
(Source: Robert Weiner Associates 301-283-0821/202-329-1700)