Obama's Drug Control Budget
Here's the White House statement outlining funds in the budget for the War on Drugs. Is there more prevention, alternative incarceration and re-entry funding? Yes. And we appreciate it.
But, it's still top-heavy on enforcement. While it says the DEA gets $24.8 million less this year, it points out that last year's amount included supplemental funding for the Southwest Border. So it probably isn't a decrease at all. And those African vacations keep on coming. Today the feds indicted 7 in Liberia and Romania as part of a reverse sting by DEA agents. (DEA agents posed as drug sellers.)
The men allegedly "agreed to receive and store multi-ton shipments of Taliban-owned heroin" and "sell multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine to the Taliban," while the two Americans -- identified as Alwar Pouryan and Oded Orbach -- allegedly agreed to sell the missiles, the statement said.
The U.S. Attorney's press release is here. Once again, it sounds like the drugs weren't intended for the U.S., but needing jurisdiction, the DEA talked the men into sending some here, with the promise of huge profits. Why are we flying these men from Liberia and Romania to New York to prosecute them? The cost of the prosecution, defense and their incarceration if convicted will be huge. [More...]
This excuse is pretty lame:
"This alleged effort to arm and enrich the Taliban is the latest example of the dangers of an inter-connected world in which terrorists and drug runners can link up across continents to harm Americans," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara said in the statement.
More on these expensive ventures, which apparently will still be funded in 2011, can be found here. As I wrote then:
How much of our money is the DEA spending on its African adventures? And how much are we spending to fly these sting targets from Africa to the U.S., hold them for a year or more in pre-trial detention, fund their defense, try them, incarcerate them for decades, and then fly them back when they are deported after their sentences?
Considering that except at the DEA's request, the (illusory) drugs are not going to the U.S., why is it even their business to intervene? Or to steer non-U.S. criminal activity into the U.S.?
Here's more on the funding of the increasingly global reach of the DEA.
Others not happy with the new drug war budget: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition:
Obama's federal drug control budget maintains a Bush-era disparity devoting nearly twice as many resources to punishment as it does for treatment and prevention, despite his saying less than three weeks ago that, “We have to think more about drugs as a public health problem," which requires "shifting resources."
I'm still willing to give some praise to Obama's new budget for starting the process of increased funding for prison alternatives, re-entry reform and for mentioning sentencing reform in the DOJ Budget.
The Budget provides $187 million in prisoner re-entry and jail diversion programs, including $100 million for the Second Chance Act programs and $57 million for drug, mental health, and other problem-solving courts.
....The Administration proposes $8.4 billion for the operations of the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee and the Bureau of Prisons, and will help stabilize the prison population by advancing evidence-based sentencing reform legislation. The Administration will continue to explore fiscally sound, data-driven administrative procedures to address population stress on the prison system such as expanded use of alternatives to incarceration, increased reliance on risk assessments, and diversion for non-violent offenders. In addition, drug treatment and prisoner re-entry programs will be expanded to enhance returning prisoners’ prospects for successful re-entry.
I'm looking forward to seeing the details on this. It has potential. Unfortunately, we will still be spending on new prisons:
Prison overcrowding also will be addressed through the activation of a newly constructed prison at Aliceville, Alabama, which will add more than 1,750 beds.
What policies should the Administration be moving toward? Here's Ethan Nadelman's latest at Alternet, The Disastrous War on Drugs Turns 40: 5 Ways to Stop the Madness.
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