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New Congressional Legislation

The 106th Congress has wasted no time in fanning the flames of the drug war. It's a wonder they've found the time in the middle of their trial. Once again, unfortunately, get-tough rhetoric has triumphed over common sense and compassion.

Below are some of the new bills proposed that would directly affect drug policy or general criminal justice, culled from over 500 new bills introduced in the new Congress.

In the House of Representatives:

  • H.R. 12 - A bill to limit jurisdiction of the Federal courts with respect to prison release orders. - Sponsored by Rep. Tom DeLay. "No court of the United States or other court listed . . . shall have jurisdiction to enter or carry out any prisoner release order that would result in the release from or non-admission to a prison, on the basis of prison conditions."
  • H.R. 75 - Hillory J. Farias Date Rape Prevention Drug Act - A bill to schedule Gamma y-hydroxybutyrate in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and to schedule Ketamine in schedule II of such Act, and for other purposes. - Sponsor: Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee
  • H.R. 215 - District of Columbia Prison Safety Act - A bill to provide discretion to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons in the transfer of District of Columbia inmates to private contract facilities. - Sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton.
  • H.R. 240 - Bulk Cash Smuggling Act of 1999 - A bill to amend title 31, United States Code, to prevent the smuggling of large amounts of currency or monetary instruments into or out of the United States, and for other purposes. - Sponsored by Rep. Marge Roukema. "Findings- Congress finds the following:
    (1) The use of large sums of cash is one of the most reliable warning signs of drug trafficking, terrorism, money laundering, racketeering, tax evasion, and similar crimes.
    (2) The prevention, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes depends upon the ability of law enforcement to deter and trace such movements of cash, and the failure to report such movements accordingly undermines law enforcement's ability to prevent and detect serious criminal activity."
  • H.R. 278 - A bill to prohibit federally sponsored research pertaining to legalization of drugs. - Rep. John Sweeney sponsored this bill.
  • H.R. 279 - Federal Employment Applicant Drug Testing Act - A bill to require pre-employment drug testing with respect to applicants for Federal employment. - Sponsor: Rep. Sweeney, E. (R-NY)
  • H.R. 282 - Correctional Officer Protection Act - A bill to amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to reduce funding if States do not enact legislation that requires the death penalty in certain cases. - Sponsored by Rep. John E. Sweeney
  • H.R. 295 - Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1999 - A bill to provide a sentence of death for certain importations of significant quantities of controlled substances. - Sponsored by Rep. John Sweeney. (This is almost a word-for-word rehash of the 105th Congress' H.R. 41, The Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1997, sponsored by the now unemployed Newt Gingrich.) H.R. 295 mandates a life sentence for a first offense of trafficking in 100 'dosage units' of any illegal drug, and a mandatory death sentence for a second offense. This is a carbon copy of the bill that prompted Mr. Gingrich to call for mass executions of drug traffickers.

In the Senate:

  • S. 5 - The Drug-Free Century Act - A bill to reduce the transportation and distribution of illegal drugs and to strengthen domestic demand reduction, and for other purposes. - Although the bill's sponsor, Sen. Mike DeWine, (R-OH), describes the bill as being "comprehensive," the bill emphasizes law enforcement, incarceration, interdiction, and asset forfeiture, at the expense of innovative or effective demand reduction programs. The asset forfeiture provisions of the bill would make it easier for federal law enforcement to seize vessels, even if no drugs are found on board, and take the assets of persons who go astray of the ever-expanding money-laundering laws. The bill also seeks to reduce the crack cocaine/powder cocaine sentencing disparity by making it easier to imprison more people on longer sentences for powder cocaine.
  • S. 44 -A bill to amend the Gun-Free Schools act of 1994. - Sponsored by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), this bill requires local education agencies that receive funds under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to expel students who possess illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia.
  • S. 146 - A bill to amend the Controlled Substances Act with respect to penalties for crimes involving cocaine, and for other purposes. - Sponsor by Sen. Abraham (R-MI), this bill increases mandatory minimums for powder cocaine offenses. It reduces quantity from 5 kilos to 500 grams for a 10-yr mandatory minimum and from 500 grams to 50 grams for a 5-year mandatory minimum.
  • S. 227 - A bill to prohibit the expenditure of federal funds to provide or support programs to provide individuals with hypodermic needles or syringes for the use of illegal drugs. Sponsored by Sen. Coverdell (R-GA)
  • S. 289 - Faith-Based Drug Treatment Enhancement Act - Sponsor: Sen. Abraham (R-MI) Amends the Public Health Service Act to permit federal assistance to religious-based drug treatment centers, to permit individuals receiving federal drug treatment assistance to select private and religiously-oriented treatment, and protect persons from being required to receive religiously-oriented treatment.

For more on what our Congress is up to, visit their web page at:

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