THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT IN ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION AT THE WHITE HOUSE LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON YOUTH, DRUG USE AND VIOLENCE
Eleanor Roosevelt High School Greenbelt, Maryland
12:18 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, hello and good afternoon. Let me again thank all of you who are participating and all of you who came to the White House yesterday. I know that the event which we just held with the students at Eleanor Roosevelt was shown here, so I have no further introductory remarks. I'm anxious to get to the panel, except to say one thing briefly.
In the 12 years that I served as the governor, when I had the opportunity not only to go to every community in my state, but from time to time to travel throughout the country, I saw a modern example of what the framers of the Constitution intended when they set up state governments, and they basically devolved a certain amount of authority throughout our country. They wanted the states and, ultimately, communities to be laboratories of democracy. And they thought, the people who set our country up, that once in any laboratory a solution to a problem was found it would be like science, that that then would be adopted and people would go on to another set of problems.
What I think is happening in our country is that nearly every serious challenge we face has been dealt with brilliantly by somebody, somewhere -- whether it's in education, or in dealing with the crime problem, or you name it. The one place where their laboratory of democracy probably fell down is that its human affairs are not like science, and very often, even though things are working well, they're not adapted, adopted, embraced as they should be.
So I think that all of you who are struggling and working to find ways to mobilize the energies not only of your communities, but willing, then, to see it spread across the country are doing the most important thing you could be doing because it's the second half of what the framers of the Constitution knew we'd have to do in order to meet all the challenges of the future. I mean, they couldn't have imagined the world that we live in now, but they set up a system that requires the second half -- and you are that.
I thank you for being here. I'm anxious to go forward, and I'd like to begin by having, I think, about four opening statements, beginning with Joe Califano. And I want to begin by just thanking you, sir, for the work that you have done at your center and the work that you have done for so many years now to try to help people try to deal with all kinds of substance abuse problems. And we'd be glad to hear from you.
MR. CALIFANO: Mr. President, thank you for those kind remarks. It's an honor to take part in this unprecedented White House Conference on Youth Drug Use and Violence. No concern could be more timely or of greater moment to young Americans, their families, their communities and their future. And with this conference, you are the first President of the United States to make the connection between the earthquake of abuse and addiction, whatever the substance -- cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, amphetamines, inhalants -- and the aftershocks of violence, crime, child abuse, teen pregnancy, AIDS, health costs, shattered families, deteriorating schools and neighborhoods.
For too long, our people have lived in a cocoon of denial about substance abuse and addiction. This White House Conference is a singular effort to shed that denial and face the reality that in the shadows of these symptoms of savagery that threaten our youth lurks substance abuse and addiction.
Mr. President, your aim is right on target: nurturing an environment that protects our children and our adolescents against all substance abuse and gives them the courage and the skills to say no to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
As a result of our research at the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University we know this: a young man or a young woman who reaches age 21 without smoking, without abusing alcohol and without using illegal drugs is virtually certain never to do so for the rest of their life. Smoking nicotine or marijuana cigarettes and drinking alcohol are, as you said this morning, in and of themselves, dangerous. But at CASA we've also found a powerful statistical relationship between adolescent use of nicotine, alcohol and marijuana and the use of drugs like cocaine and heroin.
A 12 to 17-year-old who smokes cigarettes is 19 times likelier than one who doesn't to use cocaine. A 12 to 17-year-old who drinks alcohol is 50 times likelier than one who doesn't to use cocaine. And one who smokes pot is 85 times likelier than one who doesn't to use cocaine. The earlier and more frequently a child uses any of these substances, the likelier that child is to go on to use cocaine or heroin.
These relationships are only statistical, yet they are far more compelling than those the Surgeon General in 1964 found between smoking and lung cancer, a nine to 10 times greater likelihood; and the Framingham Study found between high cholesterol and heart disease, a two to four times likelihood. Moreover, research that you've been encouraging reveals that cigarettes affect dopamine levels just as alcohol and illegal drugs do -- a characteristic that's one of the markers of the addictive power of a substance.
Mr. President, with your Food and Drug Administration initiative to keep cigarettes out of the hands of our children, you've shown more guts on this issue than any President in the history of the United States. (Applause.)
Your decision to target prevention is also a bull's eye. The only sure route to a drug-free society is to prevent our youth from using drugs, to make it cool not to smoke, chic to say no to drugs and alcohol. From today's adolescent abusers come tomorrow's adult addicts. We know how difficult it is to break a drug habit. You saw it with your brother. A teen who smokes daily for just 30 days is almost certainly addicted. By age 17, half of the teenage smokers have tried to quit and failed. And crack cocaine can be immediately addictive.
Treatment programs have helped some Americans, but their success rate is low and recidivism is common. Until we improve treatment effectiveness, the harsh reality is that most individuals who get hooked on drugs will be hooked until the day they die, either from their addiction, or from one of the diseases or violence that addiction spawns.
From our work at CASA, we are beginning to identify children least likely to use drugs -- those who have parents engaged in their lives, eating meals with them, engaged in their athletics and their academics; those who have an active religious life; those who have hope for the future, believing their future, as you indicated this morning, will be at least as great or greater than their parents; and those who perceive marijuana as dangerous.
Religion is also a key factor in shaking drug and alcohol addiction. In Opportunity To Succeed -- an ops program, a CASA demonstration; we're trying to help recovering addicts who leave prison -- the participants report that belief in God or a higher power, coupled with prayer and religious practice, have been a critical part of their getting and staying sober.
In closing, Mr. President, if I may, let me make a suggestion. We know a lot more about the dangers of marijuana than we did 20 years ago when I was Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, as you mentioned this morning. We know that it can savage short-term memory, we know that it can savage the ability to maintain an attention span and motor skills, and we know much more about the damage it can do to lungs and brain.
I suggest you ask the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prepare a report on marijuana and health, just as in 1979 we issued a Surgeon General's report on smoking and health to present to the American people the accumulated biomedical science and research on this subject, and that's what kicked off the current antismoking campaign.
To you teens here today, if you have ever abused alcohol, tobacco -- if you have never abused alcohol, tobacco and drugs, keep it up. If you have, stop. Don't play Russian roulette with your lives by experimenting with drugs. Every time you say no, you encourage your peers to say no; and by saying no, you'll be doing your part to help the President and other leaders gathered here put an end to substance abuse and the violence it spawns.
Mr. President, as a citizen, as a parent, and as a grandparent, let me thank you for calling this White House Leadership Conference on Youth, Drug Use and Violence. No resident has forcefully made the connection among cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, or more powerfully spotlighted the fact that drugs and alcohol abuse and violence by and to our young people are joined at the hip.
Congratulations, and thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Reverend Jackson?
REVEREND JACKSON: Thank you, Mr. President. I am just delighted that across the years you've expressed interest in this, perhaps the number one domestic threat within our shores and to our generation.
I would like for the youth who are here -- those of you who are 18 are younger, please stand. (Applause.) If you know -- that ain't the punchline. If you know someone in your age group who is dead because of drugs, raise your hand. Hands down. If you know someone in your age group who is in jail because of drugs, raise your hand. Hands down. If you know someone in your school who has tried drugs, raise your hand. Hands down. If you know someone who has brought a gun to school, raise your hand. Hands down. If you know someone who has told the principal or teacher on who brought drugs or a gun to school, raise your hand.
The hands went up about the knowledge of deaths and jail, those in school and those with guns. But when it came to telling somebody, there is this betrayal of silence factor. Please be seated. Betrayal of silence. We are fighting little suicide bombers who are your buddies. They are hard to detect. They disguise themselves as your friends. And yet, the number one threat to your lives are your drug-dealing, gun-toting little buddies.
Let's put it another way. If any of you in here knew that a teacher or a fellow student or a janitor or cook was a member of the Klan, Ku Klux Klan, and had sheets or hoods or ropes or drug paraphernalia in their car, in their locker, would you tell it? Raise your hand. Hands down. How many of you have ever seen a Ku Klux Klansman and his or her paraphernalia in your school? Raise your hand. You're prepared to fight the enemy that fundamentally does not exist, and want to be co-partners with the enemy of your generation. It is not the rope that threatens you, it is the dope that threatens you.
What's significant about this, Mr. President, is that this is a seller's market driven by the enemy, which is us. The fundamental to change in this, having heard the President's challenge and the Vice President's challenge, is that survival and success start with self-reliance. The drug crisis, which is the number one threat to your generation, must be fundamentally initiated as a struggle by youth. It is a war on -- it is a war on drugs because it is the force that is driving the domestic budget and the agenda today.
Concern, likewise, Mr. President, that this drug crisis is not natural, it's social and cultural. And as such, the media is a big factor in this. This is the first generation by age 15 that has watched 18,000 hours of television, listened to more than 22,000 hours of radio, compared to less than 11,000 hours of school, less than 3,000 hours of church, temple or synagogue -- which means that, quantitatively, this generation has -- the media has more access to our minds than home, church and school combined, and qualitatively penetrates more deeply.
And so, in reality, the missing person on this panel is a disc jockey because the disc jockeys have more access to the minds of our youth than political leaders and ministers and parents combined. It must be a factor because they transmit the social and cultural mores of our time. Some take drugs foolishly for joy -- short-term pleasure, long-term pain, I might add -- others, as anesthesia for their pain; or some, just for money. But the mass media and ministers and parents must assume a different role in this struggle.
I'm also concerned that the impact of the relationship between poverty and drug usage must be dealt with. One-half of all black children are born in poverty. One of every five American child is born in poverty. Those who are born in poverty tend to have less health care, tend to have less of an attention span, tend to drop out, tend to make a baby they cannot raise, tend not to be able to make a livable wage, tend to drop off into the drug subculture -- killing, getting killed or going to jail. So it starts, really, at the need for a revived war on poverty, for those who are born in poverty on the front end, end up on the other end with reduced life options, long sentences and earlier death.
There seems to be a national move, and your presence here today is to counter that move of lock them up rather than lift them up. (Applause.) The number one growth industry in our cities is jails. In every new city -- Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans -- every new city, two new buildings: a new jail and a new ballpark. I'm concerned that in the black community, for example, 200,000 more blacks are in jail than in college and now a profitable jail industrial complex is spreading up all over the place.
Youth, my challenge to you would be this: 90 percent of those in jail in this new wave of jailing about drugs, 90 percent --watch this -- 90 percent are high school dropouts; 92 percent functionally illiterate; 75 percent recidivists -- that's, once they get out, they come right back in.
We must, therefore, target the drug base. Today, they have identified some terrorists in the Middle East who are killing people -- the military is targeting the base where the terrorists are coming from. There's a base where the drug culture and drug as a set of life options are emanating from. That area must be targeted in the formative years of our children. Life on the margins is too high a risk.
I would think, youth, you must make some decisions, because no one can save your from yourself. Adults must make some decisions and know that what we're doing right now is a very culturally non-remedy to a deep spiritual and moral crisis.
I would urge parents to join us in this way, because I want to go from whereas to therefore -- what must we do, what can we do at least at level -- I would like to get -- we talked about this yesterday -- at least 20,000 parents, Governor Glendening, 20,000 parents in 50 cities who would take a five-point pledge: Take your child to school. Meet your child's teachers. Exchange home numbers. Turn off a TV three hours a night. And pick up report cards every nine weeks. Teachers tend to teach children differently when they know the parents, and children behave differently when parents and teachers know each other. That would be a million parents -- (applause) -- a million parents joint venturing with teachers would have a powerful impact upon modifying behavior.
If in those same 50 markets, 100 ministers met with juvenile court judges, and members of those congregations agree to reclaim 20 youth each as alternatives to unnecessary jailing, that would be 100,000 youths going toward church and home, which would make those 100,000 police temporary officers because you would be going to college and not going to jail. We will have changed that trend around.
I would hope, in the final analysis, as I look at Chicago, that 12,000 young people in jail, 80 percent have tested drug-positive, about 10,000. That's 700 treatment beds. So there is no plan to get them well, so they leave and, predictably, come back within 12 months. I submit to you if we take this issue of interdiction on the one hand, General, seriously, and recidivism on the other, which must be dealt with at the treatment level, we'd begin to make an impact.
Those who say treatment does not work, they have surrendered to the drug war. (Applause.) Those who do not think that stopping youth before they get trapped is useless, they have given up. We must not give up on this generation. We fought world wars before. They usually had on different colored uniforms -- they had on brown shirts; they spoke other languages. This time, the enemy has penetrated our most vulnerable spot -- our greed, our willingness to take high risks for low returns.
Young people, you must rise up and be the warriors and leaders in this struggle. Whenever America has made a change for the better, it is when young America came alive. We got from the back of the bus not because presidents and congresspeople changed their minds; a young seamstress said no to indignity, a young minister said, better we walk in dignity than ride in shame. Young America came alive. We got public accommodations -- four students sat down in Greensboro, they were threatened with jail, they chose dignity, even at the risk. The right to vote -- Goodman and Cheney, two Jews and a black. Four babies killed in Birmingham, Alabama.
When young America comes alive and chooses hope over dope, and life over death, the drug pusher will be out of business, and you can be on with the business of guiding our nation and our world to a higher height.
Thank you so much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say, yesterday Reverend Jackson and I spent a few minutes together in preparation for this day. And he went through what he was going to say. And the thing I want to say, quite apart from the incredible power of his remarks, is that he has given us a way to take what is working and to spread it across the country. And we now have to see if we're willing to do that.
Can you find 20,000 parents in 50 cities? Can you find this number of churches in 50 cities? Can we prove that we can take these -- if you want to prove that you -- we know objectively we can't jail our way out of the crisis, but we have never presented, frankly, a constructive alternative that we could spread across the country. You can build a jail in one city and another and it looks about the same. This program or that program or the other program may not look the same in every community.
So the great -- the enduring genius of what he has said today may well be his plan that would allow us systematically make a difference across the country and offer us an alternative approach to this in the future. And I thank you, sir.
Jim -- Mr. Burke.
MR. BURKE: Following Reverend Jackson is not an easy task. (Laughter.) That was very inspirational and I agree with it.
One thing that you said -- and also Joe and the President and others have said, and I want to open my remarks with it -- there isn't a single social issue in this country, not one, that illegal drugs is not embedded in. Difficult as it is, it is my opinion -- and I'm an optimist -- I believe solving this problem is the most cost-efficient way to get at all our other problems. (Applause.)
Mr. President, I think it is very, very important that we are here today, and I hope this is the beginning of more of these kinds of dialogues -- listening to our children and to talk with them about rising drug use among the nation's youth.
I think it's also important that we do remind ourselves again and again -- and the President mentioned it -- of the progress we have made already on this issue in the past. Even with the recent increases, counting them, even with those increases, there are now 10 million fewer Americans using illegal drugs than there were in 1985 -- 10 million fewer. If the 12- to 17-year-olds hadn't turned around as they have, there would be 11 million or close to 11 million. But we have convincing proof, in my opinion, that we as a society are not at all powerless in reducing drug abuse. Many people feel we are and they are wrong. And you're living proof that they're wrong.
We know the reason for the progress. And the reason is very clear -- changing attitudes toward drugs. Every study that we've got -- every study that we've got shows a direct correlation between how young people feel about drugs and whether they use them or not. It's changing those antidrug attitudes that's causing the problem at the moment. While usage is down dramatically, as has been stated by the President, holding, I might add, between 18- and 35-year-olds, it is increasing and increasing very sharply among 12- to 17-year-olds.
And the reason is the one that I gave you. The reason for progress and the reason for failure are exactly the same -- attitudes. And we know how to change attitudes, better than any other country on the face of the Earth. There is no country that has accomplished as much as this country has already accomplished on cigarette smoking. How was it done? It was done by working together to change attitudes.
Ironically, at the same time, research done by CASA, as well as the recent PDFA -- that's the Partnership For a Drug-Free America study -- shows that drug use is overwhelmingly -- in spite of the fact that usage is going up, it is overwhelmingly the greatest concern among our youth. Both studies say the same thing. Ask kids open-endedly what are they worried the most about, and they tell you drugs.
Attitudes are changed through leadership, through leadership here at the White House. Thank you so much, Mr. President. (Applause.) And we need more leadership. We need more congressional leadership. We need more leadership at the state and the community level. We need more family leadership. We need more of the kinds of peoples that you have heard from today and through this conference.
And, by the way, we talked about the media who has helped in many ways to get us into this problem. I want to say, we ought to look at the flip side of that. It wasn't until the media got interested in the illegal drug problem and the catalyst for that interest is going to speak to you next. Len Bias died, and that was the catalyst for change in terms of the media getting interested in this problem. And once they did they have had an enormously positive effect.
So, again, it is important that we are here today, and terribly important that this is the beginning of a vital process of listening to our youth. I suggest we listen to our children to tell us what we, as adults, should be doing. And I also suggest that we listen to our children as they tell us what they, themselves, can do to help. We haven't really asked, and I think it's time that we did. And I think it's one of the reasons this conference is so important. (Applause.)
A recent Harris poll on violence -- I picked this out of a paragraph in a long article -- nine out of 10 of the youths in this country said that they would be willing and anxious to participate in mentoring, in educational initiatives and in community awareness programs on violence. Nine out of 10 of our youth want to do something to help. And, again, I suggest it's time we ask them to do it. And there isn't a child in this room that doesn't know that violence and illegal drugs are joined at the hip.
I'd like to end on a note, Mr. President -- I know you went to Ireland; I want you to know I got there about six weeks before you did. And I went to a little gallery, an art gallery, with my wife, and there was a painting of that beautiful countryside in Ireland. And I looked -- underneath it, it said, "We did not inherit this country from our parents, we are merely borrowing it from our children." Underneath that, it said, "From an old American Indian statement."
Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to now call on a remarkable person who has probably laid a costlier sacrifice on the altar of our modern troubles than almost any other American, and who has responded by devoting her life to trying to help us work our way out of it -- Dr. Lonise Bias. Thank you for being here. (Applause.)
DR. BIAS: Thank you, Mr. President. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to be a part of this leadership conference today, and more so, to share my perspective on how I feel change can come in our society.
Many of you may or may not know, I'm the mother of Len Bias that died of a drug-related death in June of 1986. But December 4th of 1990, I lost a second son; my 20-year-old son, Jay, was violently murdered. Now, I use the deaths of these two young men as an opportunity to travel throughout the nation encouraging both young people and adults alike. And there are four things that I put out regardless as to what group I am addressing to give a brief introduction of myself. These four things are not unique to this particular setting. These are four things that I put our regardless as to what group I am addressing.
The first thing is that I love each and every last one of you -- not with the love of my heart, but with an agape, unconditional love. And for the problems facing the United States of America today, we will not only have to work, but we will have to be committed through love -- loving in season and out of season, when it feels good and when it doesn't feel good. (Applause.)
The second thing is that I see neither black faces, white faces, Orientals, Indians, Hispanics and so on and so on -- in this case, beautiful community coming together to be encouraged in such a difficult time. Let's look at that word -- community. Come-unity. Unity has come today at Eleanor Roosevelt High School to bring change for our young people.
The third things is that I come to offend no man. Any reference that Dr. Bias may make spiritually stems directly from the different situations Dr. Bias has had to deal with. I am keenly sensitive and aware of the fact that there may be other faiths and religions assembled here today, but I stand because of the strength of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who has given me strength to stand today. (Applause.)
And the fourth and final thing is that because I love you, because I come to offend no man and because I only see beautiful people coming together in such a difficult time to bring change, that is that I care absolutely nothing about what any of you all think of me today. (Laughter.) Now, I say that, and my point is, is that we cannot get the work done that we need to get done in this nation today, Mr. President, because we have so many young people and adults alike who are hung up on what people think about them. And when it comes time to make a good decision or to take a stand for what's right, people waver and stand on the fence. Well, I'm here today to say that we need young men, young women, mothers, fathers, grandmothers -- the family unit is the first social institutional -- we need everyone to stand up and to be accountable for these problems that we are facing today.
Now, many of you may say, "Well, Dr. Bias, if you know so much why are your two sons dead? You're nothing more than a loser -- one son a drug-related death, the other violently murdered. How dare you, of all people, attend a conference like this and share your perspective with anyone. What can you say that we have not already heard? How dare you, of all people, try to impress your thoughts upon someone else's child or another parent?" As I said before, it is my faith and belief that my God used the deaths of my two boys as seeds to go forth into the ground to bring forth life. And I believe that Len and Jay Bias have truly done more in death for this nation than they could have ever done in life.
Many people miss Len Bias because of his athletic abilities. But we must understand that athletics is only a part of life, it's not all life. It's only encircled in that part called entertainment. But today we're dealing with problems that deal with life. And in death, Len and Jay are bringing changes.
Now, there are a couple of things that I would like to put out very quickly. My perspective is that one of the reasons we're continuing, Mr. President, to have so many problems with our young people stems directly from the flow of information. We understand that the human brain is nothing more than a computer and it is constantly absorbing data all of the time through the eye gates and through the ear gates. Young people at five, six, seven and eight-years old are having to take in information that we didn't have to take in until we were adults.
We must understand in this nation that with length of days comes understanding. Many of us are still trying to find our way and press into the darkness and get some answers to some of the difficult questions of life. We have to be -- we have to watch where we're going with the flow of information that our young people are receiving. You cannot push trash and garbage into the computer and expect to get something good out. If they are absorbing trash -- (applause) -- if they are taking in trash and garbage, that is exactly what they will give you back.
The second issue, Mr. President, deals with dealing with this issue of drugs. Now, I have been working for about 10 years and traveling throughout the nation extensively dealing with many of the issues. And when I first started addressing young people, I only addressed those issues of drugs and alcohol and self-esteem. But there would always be a group of young people waiting with other problems that had nothing to do with drugs and alcohol.
And I am a firm believer today, in order for us to bring change in our society where we can bring forth the type of fruit that we want, where we can bring forth this crop of young people who will usher us into the 21st century, we must not only look at drugs and alcohol, we must look at violence, we must deal with moral values. And today, we are trying to answer so many problems without dealing morals. We are going to have to go back to values to bring change.
And, Mr. President, it has already started. Right now we are dealing with drugs and alcohol. Now it's violence, and I see that we have a great deal of concern in this nation about AIDS among our young people and HIV. We have already dealt with four issues, and the fifth issue that will come up will be the disrespect for positive and legal authority. (Applause.) We have already seen that in our society already where young people are taking guns to schools and killing their teachers, killing their parents. And once we go the entire circle, Mr. President, then we will say, well, it's time to deal with values. It's time to deal with moral values now. Our young people in this nation are reachable, teachable, loveable and saveable.
We must change our approach in adapting to their needs today. What worked in 1959 will not work in 1996. These children can be helped, but we must realize that we are the pathfinders, the life-givers and the educators, and if the blind lead the blind, they both fall in a ditch. Good advice with poor example is very confusing. We have to be ready to work this day, Mr. President, in order to bring change. (Applause.)
And, in closing, I will repeat the poem, The Man in the Glass:
"When you get what you want in your struggle for self, and the world makes you king for a day, just go to the mirror and look at yourself and see what that man has to say. For it isn't your mother, your brother, or wife whose judgment upon you must pass. The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life is the one staring back from the glass. Some people might think you're a straight- shooting chum and call you a wonderful guy, but the man in the glass says you're only a bum if you can't look him straight in the eye. For he is the fellow to please, never mind all of the rest, because he's going to be with you clear up to the end, and you've passed your most dangerous and difficult test if the man in the glass is your friend. Oh, you may fool the whole world down the pathway of years and get pats on your back as you pass, but your final reward shall be heartaches and tears if you cheat the man in the glass. We are the man in the mirror. Where we're coming from is
not important -- where are we going? And if we want to lead these young people who are this nation's greatest natural resource into the 21st century we must be prepared to know who we are so that we can lead them clearly.
May God bless you all, and thank you for inviting me. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: We have a number of distinguished people on this panel and I'd like to -- I think it's time we began with the young people and hear from them. So I will just call on them and then I want to call on some of the other panelists who are here who have done so many important things. But let me begin by asking Karen Lee, who is a senior here at Eleanor Roosevelt, who joined Students Against Violence a year ago, immediately after her classmate, Julie Ferguson, was abducted across from the school and killed. I'd like to ask her what has been happening here, what happened in the antiviolence program and where it's going, and what impact it's had on the students in the schools.
MS. CLARK: Well, after the death of our classmates, as could be understood, students and faculty were very scared, and they were very angry and they were very hurt, and they also felt very helpless. But instead of running from these fears, we decided to join together and fight against something that scared us all, and that thing is violence.
We believe that violence is often the result of the lack of alternatives. And at Eleanor Roosevelt we tried to provide some of those alternatives, such as peer mediation, peer counseling and mentoring programs -- trying to stop problems before they even occur. We believe that prevention is also very important. Self-defense courses have been very well-received, and workshops such as stress management gives students a constructive outlet for emotions that might otherwise resort to violence.
Raising community awareness to the presence of violence is also a constant concern to us. At Eleanor Roosevelt, we remember not only our classmates who have died, but all victims of violence. Memorials, candlelight vigils and just simple gatherings remind us of the past, but also give us hope for the future.
Students Against Violence is committed to a peaceful and nonviolent world, and we hope that the steps we have taken and will continue to take have a positive impact on lives.
THE PRESIDENT: How many students here at the school are involved in it?
MS. CLARK: In Students Against Violence? We have approximately 20 very active members. We are in the process right now of organizing the first anniversary commemoration of the death of Julie Ferguson, which will occur on March 20th, and I invite all of you to please attend. This is very important to us, because we intend to honor not only Julie, but as I said, all victims of violence. And we want to affirm our commitment to a nonviolent community, a peaceful future, and a very safe environment for all of us to live in.
As can be expected when we have tragedies such as the death of Julie Ferguson, the numbers of Students Against Violence swell immensely. When I joined last year, I remember there was incredible concern between the students and faculty and community, and Students Against Violence was a very stabilizing group that students and teachers could go to and talk to, and peer mediation, also. There were a lot of -- there was a lot of support going on there, which I think was very important in helping students and everybody to deal with the kinds of things they were faced with.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I want to come back to that in a moment with some of our other panelists, but I'd like to go now to Isaak Prado, who is a junior at a community school in Visalia, California. A former drug user, a former gang member who is in the second phase of the Tulari County Juvenile Drug Court in Visalia --he's returned to school; he says his attitude and his outlook have changed, and that in his program associated with the drug court he attends mandatory drug counseling, sets goals and learns from the experience of older men about how to handle peer pressure and stay away from drugs.
There are a lot of people talking here today; you've actually had to walk the walk. And I thank you just for having the courage to sit up here on this panel. (Applause.) I would like to ask you to make whatever statement you would like to make about your experience and what you would say to other young people and what you think you could do to make a difference there.
MR. PRADO: Well, I'm here because I got in trouble. I got in trouble for possession.
THE PRESIDENT: I just want to make sure they can hear you. I think they turned the mike up -- that's good.
MR. PRADO: And I was entered into the program because I got in trouble. I had the opportunity to be in the program, and the program has helped me tremendously. Like you say, we're attending counseling and things like that, and I get help from older people and, you know, everybody cares about you and they let you know what's going on.
Since I started the program my attitude has changed towards, you know, drugs and gangs and stuff like that. My attitude is a lot better, you know. Before, I'd wake up in the morning and just worry about, you know, rolling my first joint, you know, stuff like that. And now I wake up in the morning and I worry about going to work, making sure I'm going to, you know, do good things at work and I'm going to perform the tasks that they ask me to perform. And, you know, really my attitude has changed a lot.
I think it's a good program. I think we need more of it in the country, though, you know, because we're the only one, we're the only program there is. And we're just a little -- you know, we're a little community out in the middle of nowhere in California. We need more around the nation because there's a lot more people that need help.
THE PRESIDENT: Could you tell the people who are here how you happened to be placed in the drug program when you were arrested, or whatever happened to you? How did you wind up going into the drug court?
MR. PRADO: Well, I was arrested and I was sent to see the judge. And since my case was in affiliation with drugs, they gave me an opportunity to come into the program.
THE PRESIDENT: You had the choice about whether to go into the drug program or be punished conventionally in the criminal justice system, right?
MR. PRADO: Yes. And I chose to be part of the program. And it's not like you can just drop out of the program if you feel you can't complete it. You know, once you make it, it's a commitment and you have to stay in it for approximately nine months.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say that -- a lot of people here in this audience will be familiar with the drug courts, but one of the first ones in the country was established in Miami. And I happened to have, just by family accident, the exposure to it many years ago because my brother-in-law was the public defender in the drug court. So I have sat for hours on end on two different occasions in the Miami drug court. And all the people there also have to voluntarily choose to be in the drug court's jurisdiction to choose the path of rehabilitation to avoid -- automatic jailing of people who just got into this.
And one of the parts of our Crime Bill that we're still struggling to preserve funding for is a small stream of money to help people establish these drug courts around the country. And you're a pretty good walking advertisement for it. And I thank you for what you've done. (Applause.)
I wonder if any of the other panelists would like to ask Isaac a question before I go on to anyone else. Anyone have a question you want to ask him?
Well, I thank you. You hang in there.
REVEREND JACKSON: Do you fear that once you leave the program that you'll go back?
MR. PRADO: At the beginning I did. I thought, you know, I'll just be in the program for nine months, play by their rules, and once I get out I'll just go back to that life again. But going to the meetings every week, you know, they work into your mind. (Laughter.) It's all about attitude. And they changed my attitude. And so I have the attitude where I want to live a clean life and I want to be healthy. And I just want to quit everything. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: You heard Dr. Bias say it's what happens in your mind that's the most important thing. So, you hang in there. We're for you.
I'd like to ask Margaret Alstaetter -- who's here to my left, a freshman at Wilmington College in Ohio, and she's the Students Against Drinking and Driving Student of the Year. To raise awareness of alcohol-related issues, she coordinated a mock accident, planned public service announcements, organized Red Ribbon Week activities and conducted a lot of other projects involving local elementary schools and young people.
And so I'd like to ask her to say whatever is on her mind and ask her whether she thinks the SADD movement has helped to change the attitude of students about what is or is not the cool thing to do, or is or is not an acceptable thing to do, and whether or not it -- whether having a chapter like this at every college and at every high school would make a difference in the culture, to go back to what Mr. Burke said about our ability to change people's views of this. But talk a little about your own experience and tell us what you think.
Q I'd like to start by saying the main program of SADD is the Contract for Life. And this is important to us because it stands for three things. I brought some copies for you to look at. (Laughter.) The three things the contact stands for is empowerment -- empowerment to the student, to give them the powers to be responsible for their actions. It also stands for caring. It's a contract you sign with your parents. It's understanding you'll be responsible for your actions. It shows that they care about you and that they're willing to help you in whatever situation. It is also prevention. And it reminds you not to drink and drive, and so it's more of a preventive measure.
Some of the things -- I want to also talk about SADD as a resource. SADD is not a set program. You don't decide, I want to start a SADD chapter, what do I need to do. SADD is a program you design, your own school can design it to fit their needs. My school has designed it to be interactive with our drug-free program and to work extensively in elementary schools.
Some of the things we've done in elementary schools is we've provided role models for the DARE program. Our DARE officers come in and provide a training session to high school students in which we will go back to the elementary schools, into their DARE classes and answer questions. The students ask us a lot of questions that they would not feel comfortable asking their parents or their teachers or the police officers they work with. We have a lot of questions about what goes on in the high school. They have the image of my high school being a big drug center, there's guns about the school, we have riots and things like that. No, none of that type of thing happens in my high school and we were shocked to know that that's what these kids were hearing. And so we served as the way to clear the air and get a right message out to them.
Red Ribbon Week is probably our biggest activity of the year, which is held in October. During Red Ribbon Week this past year we had a traveling medicine show, which is a group of high school students that wrote skits and rap, some of the popular songs, and went in and presented them to grade schoolers. We also had dress-up days for each day. Like one day was called "Dare To Be Different," and you could wear mismatched clothes. Another day we called "Kiss Off Drugs," we passed out Hershey Kisses. It's different theme days to get everybody in the high school involved.
One of the other ways we've gotten everybody involved is to be a member of SADD and Drug-Free Council at my high school it's kind of like an elite type of thing because each group organization in the high school sends two representatives to serve on the council, like the directors, and help plan and organize all of the activities. And that serves -- you know, it's a big thing to be able to serve on the Drug-Free Council to be able to promote the activities.
We have tried to get the community involved in many ways. Public service announcements have done a great job, our radio station is very cooperative. A new activity this past year was during Red Ribbon Week we had students design little ads encouraging people to be drug and alcohol-free, and then our newspaper donated space, and we put the winning ads in there, and with the leftover ads, we took them to pizza parlors and had them taped on boxes.
This sent the message directly into the homes, and that is the whole goal of our organization. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Let me ask you this: How many people are in your organization?
STUDENT: In my high school, we have about 70 active members.
THE PRESIDENT: That's good.
GENERAL MCCAFFREY: Let me, if I may, intervene. We're scheduled to terminate at 1:15 p.m., but, Mr. President, knowing how valuable your time is, nonetheless you did make me your Drug Czar. So could we go beyond this to 1:30 p.m., do you think, to get some of the power of these comments out on the table?
THE PRESIDENT: He's only been out of uniform for a few days, and he's already off schedule. (Laughter.)
I would like to stay very much until at least 1:30 p.m., until we hear from everybody. Thank you very much.
Let me say, I think -- I wanted you to hear from these three students. Now, I'd like to come back and sort of pick up the issues, starting with -- Karen talked about school violence and I would like to call on a couple of people now to discuss how they have dealt with it.
Carl Cohn is the Superintendent of the Long Beach Unified School District in California. It's the third largest school district in California; there are 81,000 students in this school district. And two weeks ago, I went to his school district to one of the schools there, named for the great American baseball player, Jackie Robinson. And he was, as far as I know, the first major school district in the country to implement for elementary and junior high school students school uniform policy.
I went out there because we had worked, particularly through the Attorney General's Office and through the Department of Education, through Secretary Riley, to make sure that the school district and that others who wish to do the same thing could do so legally, explain how it could best be done, and then put together a handbook which you could then mail to every school district in the country explaining how Long Beach had done what they've done and how a school district who was interested in this could do it.
And when I first heard about it and, indeed, when I mentioned it in the State of the Union address, my last State of the Union address, I always try to keep up with the reaction -- on balance, it was the most positive reaction I ever got, except for all of the nasty letters I got from kids saying, "how dare you suggest that school uniforms would be a good thing; it would be the most boring, awful thing that ever happened, our liberties would be trampled," and in one fell swoop, one remark, I turned myself into an old fogey before the entire country. But I must say, having gone out there, since the State of the Union, I think that at least every American needs to hear about the Long Beach experience, particularly in light of what Karen said and others have said.
So, Carl, the floor is yours.
MR. COHN: Thanks very much, Mr. President. At the risk of frightening all of these Roosevelt Raiders who are here, our program is at the elementary and middle school level, and we've had a dramatic reduction in school crime following the implementation of our uniforms -- 36-percent overall reduction, a 50-percent reduction at the middle school level in fights. And we did it at local level because parents and teachers stood with us in saying that we were going to have higher dress and behavior standards in our schools.
The much maligned urban parent that everybody has written off and said won't stand with you, stood with us in this fight for school uniforms. I think the program and its value was best summed up when Maurice Troutman, our young middle school student said, "Mr. President, on the way to school I don't have to look over my shoulder when I'm wearing my uniform." And I think that captured for everybody the success of that kind of a program. And we're grateful for the support of the Attorney General and you, Mr. President. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just inject a couple of facts here, in case any of you are thinking about this. First of all, there was not a uniform school district policy. He allowed every school, by some process or another, to choose their uniforms. And they were basically just comfortable school clothes, like I saw one of the young people was in a -- the uniform for the boys was blue slacks and a white shirt with a collar every day. It wasn't -- and there was some variation within that. And then the uniform for the girls was the same thing or a skirt.
And each school got to choose their own colors and got to decide what the parameters the uniform were. If the school chose, the teachers and the principal also wore the uniform, but that varied by school. But the young man that he mentioned, for example, said his school was located in a high crime area where the gangs associated gang membership with the colors red and blue, so the school chose black, white and green for the school uniform. And to see this young attractive African American student saying, I don't have to look over my shoulder anymore when I walk to and from school, I feel safe -- that's worth something.
The other student who spoke was a young -- I think a 13 year old student, who is a terrifically powerful young woman who said that she felt one of the reasons that the learning had gone up and discipline and behavior problems had gone done is that it gave all the children a sense of unity and that all of them were being judged based on what was on the inside, rather than on the outside. (Applause.) It's interesting. And in that sense, she said she thought the children who came from well-to-do families were helped as much by the policy as children who came from poor families. And they also had to set up a system so kids who came from families who couldn't afford it and all that, and they covered all that.
But if you have any interest in this I would urge you to write to Carl because it's hard to quarrel with the results and what the kids said. Maybe it's not the thing for every school district and every school, but they had a lot of problems and to see them drop in a breathtaking fashion I think is a real tribute to the courage and vision of that school district. And I thank you for what you did. (Applause.)
REVEREND JACKSON: Also, children who go to the wealthiest schools wear uniforms and completely de-emphasize clothes, they focus on lap tops rather than boom boxes. And the children who have the least amount of money to buy clothes have to buy the most clothes to keep up. So it's also cheaper. And I wish you would go one step further -- those young men and young women should learn to make those uniforms -- (laughter) -- because that's the way of making a living. Young men and young women should be able to sew and make their clothes. There is some character development in that. And there is some job creation in that, and there is reduction of the emphasis on clothes as the measure of who you really are. I think there's a lot more built into that than just stopping the gangs.
THE PRESIDENT: Before you laugh too much about the last comment Reverend Jackson made, let me remind you that the most famous cloth spinner of the 20th century was Mohandas Gandhi. (Applause.) That was his main non-work activity.
So I'd like to call on Yvonne Green who is the director of the Safe Schools Initiative in and around East Capitol and Marshall Heights in Washington, D.C. She has a very challenging job. And she is helping to establish the kind of school and community partnerships that the rest of us so often talk about. So I'd like to ask her whether the Safe and Drug-Free School funds out of the Crime Bill have helped her, and what she's done with it and what she thinks it's making a difference.
MS. GREEN: Thank you very much. We are very fortunate to have been funded by the U.S. Department of Ed Safe Schools, and we are working in the Marshall Heights-East Capitol community in Washington, D.C., to reduce incidents of violence. Our mission is to create safer living and learning communities. We subscribe very much to the philosophy and practice that schools and community need to partner together to address issues that are common to them. and in the Marshall Heights-East Capitol area, we have been doing a lot of work around the issue of violence.
One of the most exciting things that we are doing currently is setting up a community mediation team. Before I proceed, I'd like to see how many peer mediators we have here today. Can you raise your hands? Great. Very nice to have you here. Because these are some of the people who helped to make communities safer. We operate with the premise that it is very important for us to take preventive measures in mitigating violence.
And so one of the things that we are extremely committed to do is to create this community mediation team. We've convened members of the community, including civic leaders, the police department from whom we've gotten tremendous support because it's very consistent with the community policing philosophy. We have also gotten tremendous support from the metropolitan Boys and Girls Club in that community. They have donated space to house the mediation team, as well as to conduct training.
And recently, on February 1, we conducted a one-day conflict management training for the community. We had over 55 people in attendance including a good 30 percent of the attendees being police officers. We had parents also, and, in fact, one of the parents who attended the training commented that when she came in and saw all these police officers, she was just petrified because she had had very negative experiences with them. But being in the same room, having dialogues with them and being on equal turf, she came away feeling very safe, and certainly feeling more positively towards the police.
But we recently actively started this week training 22 people in the community to become mediators. And our goal is really to have community members serving the community. We feel very strongly that each community comes with resources of people and time and talent. And so one of the things that we're trying to do is to harness these resources to make the community stronger because we know that a weak community will not support the children.
The First Lady has launched her book -- it takes an entire village to raise a child, but it certainly does take a strong village to raise that child. And so one of the things we want to do is to raise up in the community some of the strengths that we see.
We also feel this is a very important project because you know that many times minor disagreements escalate into very violent episodes, and people lose their lives that way. So program is intended to preempt some of that. We are targeting problems such as parent-child problems, business-community members, businesses and their customers, as well as hopefully getting some landlord and tenant problems in there.
We also expect to get some of our young people coming in to talk about issues that are of concern to them, or disagreements that they've had. And so we are very fortunate to have had the support of the safe and drug-free school funds, and we hope somehow it might come back to us and, Mr. President, I'd like to suggest that when funds of this nature being disseminated, especially in terms of building community school partnerships, that somehow we would look into the possibility of making the funding available to both groups as opposed to giving it to one group and they manage the funds, make both groups responsible and accountable for the funds and the outcome.
And I think partnership can be built certainly much stronger that way. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That's a very good idea. (Applause.)
Now, if you will remember, Izaak said that he was involved in the drug court system in his hometown of Visalia, California. I'd like to call now on Judge Jeff Tauber, who is here, who initiated the design implementation of the Oakland Drug Court Program, which was one of the nation's first -- he's now President of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and he advises federal, state and local agencies about how to establish these drug courts.
So I'd like for him to talk about this. In view of -- you heard the statistics Reverend Jackson mentioned. we know more than half of the individuals that come into the criminal justice system in the country have some sort of a substance abuse problem. And I'd like for him to tell me what he thinks the results are from the drug courts that have been established enough -- in time for us to evaluate them and what he believes the future of the drug courts movement is.
MR. TAUBER: Thank you, Mr. President. I'm here on behalf of nearly 100 drug courts to community courts around the country, and we really appreciate the opportunity to speak here.
Drug courts are relatively new phenomena, obviously, perhaps the first drug is seven years old. What I can tell you is that already, there are offshoots, there are new kinds of courts -- we call them community courts, because they relate to the community, they come out of the community, and they are made up of community members and agencies. I might note that we have a partner as well -- the National Association of Drug Court Professionals is partner with Community Antidrug Coalitions of America, an organization I know that you know well, and it's because of our ability to partner in our local communities that we've been able to have success around the country.
Let me speak to the initial question, which was about that success. The initial evaluations are relatively recent because these programs are recent. But the evaluations that have come out of Miami that were done by -- or, rather, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, the evaluations that have come out of Oakland and Portland all seem to suggest that the reduction in the recidivism is in the neighborhood of anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent over a period of years, that recidivism is reduced very substantially.
American University did a study of 20 drug courts that have been up only one year, and they found that there were substantial reductions in recidivism and substantial increases in program successes. So we feel that this is a very -- it's a strong model. It's a model that's being adopted across the country and, interestingly, we're seeing juvenile drug courts like Izaak's starting -- there are perhaps 12 that are being implemented and being designed around the country. There are domestic violence courts that are based upon the drug court model. There are family drug courts and driving under the influence courts.
So we feel that the partnering between the courts and other agencies, which is actually quite a new phenomena -- as you may know, judges don't necessarily partner as well as other folks, we're used to sitting up there and making the decisions, but we have realized that you can't do it alone.
These courts have begun and are partnering and collaborating with other organizations and other agencies very successfully.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to open the floor if anybody has questions of Judge Tauber. But I want to emphasize to all of you --remember Izaak's story. Not only are these courts reducing the recidivism rates, these people are not going to prison in the first place, they are not going to prison in the first place. (Applause.) And as far as I -- the only courts that I've any experience with, the option to go through the regular system or to go into the drug court, since the drug court imposes certain responsibilities on the defendant going in, is left with the person who is charged, as it was in Izaak's case.
But I think the question of the aggregate impact on this country would be if every community of any size had a court like this -- which requires a community support system because you've got to show up on a regular basis and all that -- is quite significant. And the one I watched in Miami for long periods of time on two separate occasions, the whole atmosphere was different, the chemistry of the court was different, the way that the defense lawyer and the prosecutor and the judge related to each other was different, because they knew what they were trying to do was to save the defendant and, in the process, get the law observed and make the community safer.
It's a very exciting thing. I would like to see it done everywhere. And I think what you're doing is very important.
Would anyone like to ask any questions of Jeff before we go on?
JUDGE TAUBER: I would like to add one thing if I may. I just wanted to thank you and this administration for its support of drug court and the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, because I think that we had the opportunity to grow and to grow in a very, I think, a very thoughtful and responsible way because of that support.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. TAUBER: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Now, if you remember, our third young person, Margaret, talked about the Students Against Drunk Driving and what they were trying to do to keep our young people sober and drug free. I'd like to now call on Kurt Landgraf, who is the president and CEO of DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical Company, who is now the representative of the National Pharmaceutical Council here. And he will discuss the $33 million program I announced in my speech.
I say this because we know that the students need help and support at home. We also know, whether you believe -- you know, there's this endless debate that started that basically was the study of people who had an alcohol addiction, about whether it's all a matter of weak will and bad habits or whether some people are biologically predisposed to it have problems. We know that whether you believe it's totally determined or not, there are all kind of differences both in the home situation and in people's makeup that makes it more important than ever that we get the parents involved early, making good decisions and understanding what to do.
So I'm excited about this and I'd like to ask Kurt just to talk a little bit about this program, why the pharmaceutical companies decided to do it and how they expect it to work.
MR. LANDGRAF: Well, thank you, Mr. President. It takes great courage to call on me at 1:30 p.m. because this is about the time in a group like this when you hear a corporate executive is going to talk that people start bolting for the door. (Laughter.)
Let me just briefly tell you what we're going to do. As you've announced today, on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry and the National Pharmaceutical Council we're very, very pleased to be involved in this initiative. We're going to use 17,000 sales reps from 15 companies in the pharmaceutical industry and our job is going to be to provide information that's been developed by General McCaffrey's organization and take that out to health care professionals so that they can identify and help parents to identify those people who are at risk in terms of drug abuse.
Now, what I'd like to just take a minute and close with is let me tell you why we're doing this, because most people are going to view us for doing this for perhaps not the best of reasons. And I'd like to tell you why we are doing this, there's three reasons. First off, if you sit here all day and listen to this, listen to these young people, listen to Reverend Jackson talk, you have to be -- as we say from where I come from -- dumb as a box of rocks not to recognize that this is probably the fundamental problem in American society. And unless American business participates in a solution, we will watch the crumbling of American society occur before us.
The second reason we're doing this is we, as an industry, have the resources to do this. We have the distribution system, we have the sales reps. When Fred Garcia, the Deputy Director of the Office of Policy Management, asked us to do this -- we can do this. We can do this starting tomorrow. You don't have to build up a grass-roots effort to do this. We can contact physicians and nurses and we're willing to spend that $33 million in resources to do this. (Applause.)
Now, the third reason is the one I get most emotive about, but I'm going to try and really control this. And that is, business is, in fact, a social institution. We are as important as a social institution as our government, as our churches, as any other institution in this society. And if we stand by and watch this society deteriorate it will hurt us, it will hurt our children. When I was announced, I was announced as being the father of five. I am more concerned about their future than any other single thing in my life. This allows this particular part of American business to share with you and other members of this panel an opportunity to make this a better world for our children and their grandchildren and we are thrilled to be part of this opportunity. So thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. I want to say a special word of thanks to you, sir, not only to you, individually, but to the people in your business. You know, the United States has the most successful pharmaceutical industry in the world. And it depends, in part, for its success on a decent partnership with the federal government, especially through the Food and Drug Administration.
And the statement you have just made is the statement that I think is very important, that in many respects the collective influence of American business practices is far greater on the American people than the influence of the government is, and that's as it should be in many respects because we have a free enterprise system, we believe in a private economy and it has served us rather well.
But the statement you just made is a very important statistical -- that even in a global economy, when you have to worry about the worldwide competition, the home base still matters. And in the end business has to be able to do well by doing good, because America must be strong for the private economy to flourish. And that's a very important statement and I thank you for it.
I have intentionally saved for last among our panelists -- and I want to give the Governor a chance to say a word as we close -- but the Sheriff of Jacksonville, Florida, Nat Glover, because he is one of the most unusual success stories in our country. He was elected sheriff in a community in which is a majority white community, and which is also a majority of the other political party. (Laughter.) And he was elected sheriff because people of all races and both political parties and all backgrounds trusted him to take the lead in lowering the crime rate and making the streets safer. It wasn't a political issue, at all; it was a human issue.
And he was elected by promising, in effect, to have his office on the street. And I had the extraordinary opportunity to spend a day with him, not just at a rally of young people giving a talk, which I got to do, but actually walking the streets and watching him relate to people, the young and old alike, and seeing how they looked at him as the source of energy for delivering them from their own fears. And it was an extraordinary thing.
So I wanted him to talk about what he's done in relating to the community and what the successes have been and to just thank him publicly for being a role model for law enforcement around the country. But I'd like to ask him to say a few words and maybe reflect on what he's heard here today and what he's trying to do in Jacksonville.
Sheriff Glover. (Applause.)
SHERIFF GLOVER: Thank you, Mr. President. First, just let me say, Mr. President, I want to congratulate you on taking the lead to initiate this conference and convene this most distinguished panel. I salute you for your commitment to saving this country this country's most greatest natural resource -- our youth in America. I salute you for that, Mr. President.
As I sat here and listened to all of these most eloquent presentations, it's quite clear to me that without a partnership, without a partnership in this country we will not be able to eliminate violence from our schools and our neighborhood and eradicate drugs from our community.
But I'm convinced that we can do that. We can do that if we pull together. We talked about my election in Jacksonville, Florida. I never raised the issue of race because crime knows no race. Drugs know no color. And violence can touch anybody. But I'm convinced, in this country, the United States of America, who put a man on the moon, we can eradicate drugs from our neighborhood and eliminate violence from our communities. (Applause.)
I also want to take this opportunity to tell you that your community-oriented policing strategy is working. It's putting police officers on the street. I'm here to report to you that I've seen it work. We've put 31 police officers in a community that's deprived, low-income, and I've watched the transition. Youngsters who previously looked at drug dealers as role models are now coming to police officers and reporting those drug dealers and exposing them for what they are. I am seeing youngsters who over the years haven't wanted to go to school at all bringing their report cards and competition with other kids in the community because they want to show that they are doing well in school, and, in fact, are attending school.
So your 100,000 police officers on the streets in this country -- in Jacksonville, it's working. And I'm here to say to you, ignore the naysayers who say that those police officers will never hit the street. They are all on the street. And they are making a difference.
Stay the course, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Governor.
GOVERNOR GLENDENING: Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, let me kind of wrap up, knowing full well that I'm about the only thing that stands between lunch for an awful lot of hungry-looking people here. But, first, if I might, just thank you and the Vice President for taking the better part of the day and your very, very busy time and being with us here today and for your leadership as well. It does make a difference. Lives will be saved -- lives that we probably never will know because of this, and I just want to thank you so very much to start off on my -- (applause).
Let me also, though -- I also want to point out that I see the Mayor of Greenbelt over here, the City Council of Greenbelt -- We're in this beautiful town of Greenbelt and how pleased I am to be here, but, Mr. President, before you arrived today and I was speaking to some of the people who are in this room today, and I related an experience that I had on Monday. And I went to a school -- a school and church in Montgomery County, one of the wealthiest counties, of course, in the country -- St. Camilla's. And a father there was telling us that last year he participated in 68 funerals for congregations in that church. A full 25 percent of them were people who died of gun violence. Now, if you think of that, that means that just about everyone in that congregation knows someone well who died in gun violence in one of the wealthiest jurisdictions in this country.
And I say that also because we've all had our experience, but there is not a family that is exempt. My wife, Frances Ann, as people from Maryland know, about five years ago was robbed at gunpoint at a neighborhood store by a person who was an addict, who was a junkie, was feeding his habit. Now, fortunately, she wasn't hurt, but you can imagine the devastation that causes in a family, just the disruption. And sadly, her brother, while just a mid-teenager, died of drug overdose.
And so every family in this country sees and knows what is going on here. Now, it's not just about the partnership that we need; it is also, I think, perhaps more than anything else, a sense of personal responsibility. I believe what we all must do is make it very clear that there is a right and there's a wrong, and that we are personally responsible. And by "personally responsible" it doesn't mean just a question of law or whether you're going to jail or to programs, but it means how we conduct ourselves, how we look in the mirror. And that personal responsibility pertains to everyone, obviously, here, and everyone who is going to be participating in these programs. And it also pertains, I think, to us as elected officials to try say on personal responsibility, that we have the responsibility for our health, we have the responsibility of opportunity for the young people that are here.
And I say that in particular because it's not just about staying away from drugs and violence. There's got to be a position alternative. And the positive alternative, it seems to me, comes from education and the investment in education, and it comes from having the jobs and the employment opportunity that is out there. (Applause.)
That is why, I must tell you in all candor -- and, Mr. President, I appreciate your leadership in this -- but I am dismayed by people who, I guess, are riding the horse of cutting taxes under any circumstances. It makes -- no matter what the sacrifice, we'll cut taxes. And under those circumstances, I see good programs in Congress being cut. And then I watch, even at the local levels and the state levels, where those same things going on. And we're not just cutting education, we're not just cutting job training and drug treatment programs. We're cutting, I believe, the hope for the future.
And I would hope that we could stop for a moment and think about what we're doing. Jesse, you're exactly right. When Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and I, after just completing the construction of another $120 million prison with 1300 spaces in that prison, decided that we had enough prison construction for a while, and let's delay that and see if could invest instead in education and in alternate programs. (Applause.)
I must tell you, though, that Reverend Jackson made the observation about back in the early 1950s President Eisenhower warned us against the military-industrial complex. What I found frightening was the very prison complex that you mentioned. We were criticized -- we are criticized for that action. We were criticized by companies that build prisons. We were criticized by communities that wanted to jobs of the correction officers in those communities. Now, what kind of values are we going to have if that becomes one of the standards of how we're going to stimulate our economy at all. And so, I feel a great deal of frustration out of this, but I also think, as we watched the programs being discussed here, as we look at the participants in the audience, and especially the young people, and, Mr. President, as we look at your leadership, I also believe we have a lot of hope.
And I think with a lot of work and harnessing some of the excitement that we have here, that perhaps we could look back at the next century, at the next millennium and say the mid-1990s we started to make a really major difference under your leadership. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. As we -- Jesse. (Laughter.)
REVEREND JACKSON: I really do think, based on what Nat said and you said, I think there are three things. I really think March 7th could be a turning point in this war. One of my fears was the General would not have an army to lead in the struggle. And this could be that turning point. I really believe that.
Secondly, I think, Nat, that the 100,000 police is critical, and at points I had more reservations about than I do now. But I want us to deal with the assumption that they are drug-free. You know, 30th precinct in New York station, 30 police officers indicted, thinking bout Dr. Bias and the looking in the mirror point, that those who have the most responsibility must face the greatest punishment when they violate and they set us up to bust us. Many of the youth are afraid to turn in the drug pusher because they're afraid to talk to the police. That's a big piece of their fear. And as we get deep into the roots of this thing that those who have the badge and have the burden must be leaders at the grass-roots level.
I would just like to ask this one last question. I don't want the youth here to feel that they are impotent and kind of have to watch us or do something about this. Those of you who are 18 by November, if you are registered to vote, please stand. If you are registered to vote now, stand. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: That's pretty good.
REVEREND JACKSON: Those who are not registered yet, please stand. If you are not registered yet, please stand.
My point is, there are four million high school seniors graduating this May and June. If you come across that stage with a diploma in one hand and a voter card in the other hand, then the issues that the Governor raised -- you have the power to elect a Congress and maintain a President that will put schools over jails and provide for your future. Don't wait for someone to provide that for you. You have the power in your hands to change the course and assume that responsibility, so we can all move into the next millennium with a great sense of celebration.
Thank you so much, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to thank Eleanor Roosevelt again for hosting and thank all of the others who made this possible. I want to thank the panelists. I hope all of you who came to this conference got something out of their moving statements, their personal experiences, and perhaps some ideas you can take home. I want to assure you that the Vice President and General McCaffrey and I and the other members of our Cabinet will read the reports of all the various sessions of this conference.
I have only two regrets as I leave here. One is that we couldn't spend all day hearing from all the young people who are here. And the other is that we couldn't spend all day listening to all the people who are here from the conference who could have just as well been on this panels.
I want to thank you for the life you're leading, the work you're doing. Many of you out there in this audience I've had some personal involvement with, and I feel personally indebted to you -- you know who you are -- and I thank you for that.
This is our country's great challenge. And if you look at these fine young people that were here, the rest of us owe it to them to meet it. And I feel more optimistic than I did before I came here today that we'll do exactly that.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
END 1:53 P.M. EST