Administration Drug Control Strategy Raises Civil Liberties Concerns, Says ACLU

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; media@dcaclu.org

Administration Drug Control Strategy Raises Civil Liberties Concerns, Says ACLU

WASHINGTON - The Office
of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) today announced its 2010
national drug control strategy. The strategy, while increasing resources
for treatment and prevention, raises concerns by continuing the
government's focus on enforcement of current policies that are
ineffective, costly and potentially threatening to civil liberties. 
 

The
ONDCP is a component of the Executive Office of the President that
establishes drug policy, strategy and priorities as set by the office of
the president. The strategy directs the country's anti-drug efforts and
establishes a program, a budget and guidelines for cooperation among
federal, state and local entities.
 

The
American Civil Liberties Union welcomes the increased emphasis on
prevention and treatment in the ONDCP's strategy but believes it should
account for the civil liberties and fiscal costs resulting from current
enforcement practices.

The
following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office:

 

"The
ONDCP's commitment of both money and support
to programs like needle exchange initiatives is critical as we
cannot afford the civil liberties and fiscal consequences of continuing
to overzealously lock up minor drug offenders while common sense
solutions remain underfunded. Though we are encouraged by the emphasis
on evidence-based prevention and treatment in the ONDCP strategy,
continuing the practice of targeting small-time drug offenders rather
than working to curb drug use will only serve to increase incarceration
and divide our communities.
 

"In
addition to recommendations by the ONDCP, there are important bills
currently pending in Congress that would address drug policy by reducing
the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and creating a
national criminal justice commission to reassess our broken system.
Congress must a play a role alongside the ONDCP in executing this
strategy and recalibrating our failed drug policies."
 

The
following can be attributed to Jay Rorty, Director of the ACLU Drug Law
Reform Project:

 

"The Obama administration deserves credit for vocalizing a
commitment to moving away from the failed and unconstitutional policies
that have defined America's war on drugs. But any strategy aimed at
reversing the mistakes of the drug war must both fund treatment and
ensure that enforcement efforts preserve civil rights, and ONDCP's
budget and strategy do neither. Attempting to reduce demand by
continuing to focus on the search, arrest and conviction of street
sellers rather than importers will further erode the Fourth Amendment,
exacerbate the crippling financial effects of our nation's addiction to
mass incarceration and is no substitute for an effective public
health-based strategy that promotes public safety while preserving
communities' constitutional rights."

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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