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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 12, 1998

January 12, 1998


                 SUBJECT:  Zero Tolerance for Drug Use and 
                      Drug Availability for Offenders

Crime rates in this country have dropped significantly for 5 years, and the number of Americans who have used drugs is down nearly 50 percent from its peak 15 years ago. Also, drug-related murders have dropped to their lowest point in a decade, and recent drug use surveys indicate that -- for the first time in years -- teen drug use is leveling off, and in some instances, modestly decreasing. All of this news is encouraging.

Nonetheless, much more can and needs to be done to continue to bring down drug use and increase public safety. With more than half the offenders in our criminal justice system estimated to have a substance abuse problem, enforcing coerced abstinence within the criminal justice system is critical to breaking the cycle of crime and drugs. My Administration consistently has promoted testing offenders and requiring treatment as a means of reducing recidivism and drug-related crime. We have worked to expand the number of Drug Courts throughout the country, increased the number of Federal arrestees and prisoners who are tested and treated for drugs, and launched an innovative "Breaking the Cycle" initiative, which is a rigorous program of testing, treatment, supervision, and sanctions for offenders at all stages of the criminal justice process. And under your leadership, the Federal Bureau of Prisons provides models of excellence in drug detection, inmate testing, and drug treatment.

We can do still more to enforce coerced abstinence among State prisoners, probationers, and parolees. When a drug user ends up in a State prison, we have a chance to break his or her addiction. Convicted offenders who undergo drug testing and treatment while incarcerated and after release are approximately twice as likely to stay drug- and crime-free as those offenders who do not receive testing and treatment. But when drug use inside prisons is ignored, the demand for drugs runs high. In this environment, correction officials struggle to keep their prisons drug-free. Often drugs are smuggled in by visitors; sometimes even by compromised correctional staff.

To maintain order in our prisons, to make effective treatment possible, and to reduce drug-related crime, we cannot tolerate drug use and trafficking within the Nation's prisons. Thus, I direct you to:

(1) Amend the guidelines requiring States receiving Federal prison construction grants to submit plans for drug testing, intervention, and treatment to include a requirement that States also submit a baseline report of their prison drug abuse problem. In every subsequent year, States will be required to update and expand this information in order to measure the progress they are making towards ridding their correctional facilities of drugs and reducing drug use among offenders under criminal justice supervision.

(2) Draft and transmit to the Congress legislation that will permit States to use their Federal prison construction and substance abuse treatment funds to provide a full range of drug testing, drug treatment, and sanctions for offenders under criminal justice supervision.

(3) In consultation with States, draft and transmit to the Congress legislation that requires States to enact stiffer penalties for drug trafficking into and within correctional facilities.


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