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GAO Officials note:

Alternatives to Incarceration Deemed Worthy

by R.J. Riley, Prisoner of the War in America

The combined efforts of Weldon, McPhail Assistant Director, Administration of Justice Issues, Thomas L. Davies, Assignment Manager, both of General Government Division Washington DC; and Michael P. Savino, Regional Management Representative, James R. Brakley Evaluator in Charge, Windy P. Bakal Site Senior, and Michael T. Gibson, Evaluator of the New York Regional Office of the Administration of Justice Issues' as major contributors to the General Accounting Office (GAO) Report GGD-93-82, entitled "Confronting the Drug Problem", had hearing in the written reply of Henry R. Wray Director of Administration of Justice Issues to The Honorable John Conyers Jr., Chairman of the House of Representative's "committee on Government Operation." This GAO report addressed the issues surrounding the use of alternatives to incarceration for controlled substances offenses in the United States.

The report states in part that "Critics of the Federal strategy, while recognizing the need for government controls, question the necessity of maintaining a total prohibition on the sale and use of illegal drugs." As this is now May, of 1997 we find that not a lot has changed in regard to the Drug Warrior's rhetoric or the mode of his operations in this country's "miss the mark" attempts at controlled substance policy. Critics of the "enforcement" emphasis of the federal strategy contend that an increased reliance on such approaches as substance use, prevention, treatment and "Option" to, or in lieu of, traditional incarceration could more effectively address the drug problem. Law enforcement alone cannot solve the drug problem. The federal government has steadily increased its annual drug control budget from 2.8 billion tax dollars in 1986 to 12 billion of American tax dollars in 1992 alone, with 70% of those moneys allotted to "enforcement" efforts. This type of "Black Hole" spending, simply throwing good money after bad, must end. In 1997 the drug control monetary output will be in excess of 15 billion tax dollars. Dollars, it must be added, that should be directed to other areas such as; schools, infrastructure, elderly care and to the main item on every one's list, when drug warriors spout rhetoric: "The Children!"

Drug dealing and drug related crime continues to completely ravage otherwise peaceful neighborhoods in most metropolitan areas. The Congressional Research Service estimated the health costs related to substance abuse twas 8.9 billion in 1989. It must be seen that if we could remove the all-too-human thrill of breaking the rules by just simply lifting them and in the same stroke negating the falsely perceived " glamour" that goes along with the exchange and sharing of the substance in today's environment, we could cut the loss of precious lives and revenues to 99% of today's' figures within weeks. Is this not a realistic goal?

In trying to contain the drug problem, the GAO Report advised Committee Chairman Conyers that; 1) "eliminating penalties for substance use, while continuing to arrest and punish substance traffickers, and 2) authorizing a regulated market to the now prohibited substances, which legitimate businesses would then be allowed to sell one or more substances to adults under controlled condition, are found to be worthy of serious consideration. A third approach was, "to expand physician's prescription authority to allow the prescribing of certain, otherwise illegal substances in the course of treating patient addictions, as physicians are now allowed to prescribe methadone for heroin addicts."

This report, the source of which needs mentioning again, was brought forward by the "United States General Accounting Office." The GAO initiates detailed, comprehensively compiled reports on widely varied subjects without the normal biases noted in other governmentally associated departments according to the behest of individual Congressmen of committees. Their reports, for those who are unfamiliar, are found to be highly reliable, extremely concise, and worthy of the trust reserved for the most elevated independent sources. The scope and methodology of this report as well as any other reports they come to be involved with, is extensive. They interviewed substance abuse experts form criminal justice areas, public health officers, research scientists, and the academic community to obtain the widest views available.

In conclusion, it must be stated that in view of the present social moral allocated with controlled substance policies, (or lack thereof in many professional opinions), our present approach has, 1) caused much more harm than it should, and 2) in its failure to address many of the social problems that are different today than those present in 1914 with the passage of the "Harrison Tax Act", the ongoing policy of Incarcerative Punishment for the "consensual" act of substance inebriation MUST BE SCRAPPED and turned toward "Toleration, Compassion, and a sane, Enlightened Humane Substance policy," be instituted.

In this writer's experienced opinion, the folly of Ethneogenic Prohibition, in its many forms, has been allowed by our people for far too long! If the legislators will not listen to reason and begin immediately to institute change saving tens of thousands of innocent lives from premature death we as well informed right thinking citizens must certainly: 1) remove them from office; 2) initiate and vote by referendum to change the laws; and 3) ensure that a planet wide plague like the present "War on Drugs" NEVER occurs again!

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