THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
Presidential Directive on Coerced Abstinence in the Criminal Justice System
January 12, 1998
Today, President Clinton directed the Attorney General to take the necessary steps to: (1) require states to determine the level of drug use in their prisons and report annually on their progress; (2) grant states the flexibility to use their federal prison funds for drug detection, offender testing and drug treatment; and (3) work with states to enact stiffer penalties for drug trafficking into and within correctional facilities. The President also announced that his FY 1999 budget will include nearly $200 million for a series of initiatives to promote coerced abstinence and treatment in the criminal justice system.
Moving Towards a National Policy of Coerced Abstinence. Last week, Columbia University's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) released a study confirming the need for coerced abstinence and treatment in the criminal justice system. CASA's study found that 1.4 million offenders -- or 80% of the 1.7 million criminals in prison and jails -- were either high on drugs or alcohol when arrested, stole property to buy drugs, or have a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Many other studies also confirm that the majority of individuals in the criminal justice system have similar drug histories.
Testing to Measure Progress. Under current law and federal guidelines, states are required to submit drug testing and intervention plans for their federal prison grant funding. The President's directive calls on the Attorney General to amend the guidelines to require states to also include a baseline report of their prison drug abuse problem, and to report every year thereafter to chart the progress they are making to reduce drug use and availability.
Helping States Get the Job Done. Today's directive asks the Attorney General to draft and transmit to the Congress legislation that will grant states the flexibility to use their federal prison construction and substance abuse treatment funds to provide the full range of drug testing, sanctions and treatment for offenders under criminal justice supervision. With this added flexibility, states could tap into the nearly $8 billion in prison funds authorized by the 1994 Crime Law (about $2 billion of which already have been appropriated to date).
Keeping Drugs Out of Prisons. Finally, the President's directive calls on the Attorney General to draft legislation, in consultation with the states, that would require states to enhance their penalties for drug trafficking into and within correctional facilities as a condition of receiving prison construction funds. The 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill contains tough penalties for similar crimes. The President believes we must have zero tolerance for drug use and trafficking within our nation's prison system.
A Record of Accomplishment. President Clinton has consistently promoted a policy of drug testing, sanctions and treatment for offenders. Specifically, he has: Pushed for Drug Testing and Intervention in the 50 States. The President fought for and signed the legislation requiring states to drug test prisoners and parolees as a condition for receiving prison grants. States must now submit comprehensive drug testing and intervention plans for prisoners and parolees by March 1998, and implement them by September 1998. Today's actions directly build on this effort.
Doubled the Number of Federal Arrestees Tested. President Clinton directed the Attorney General to create a program to drug test federal criminal defendants. Operation Drug TEST (Testing, Effective Sanctions and Treatment) funded a pilot program to test defendants immediately upon their arrest. In FY 1997, data from 24 judicial districts indicated that 56% of defendants (9,308) were tested -- a dramatic increase over the 28% (4,929) of defendants tested in the previous year. There was also a 190% increase in drug treatment for defendants over the same period.
Expanded Testing and Treatment in Federal Prisons. Through his budgets and the 1994 Crime Act, the President has promoted coerced abstinence in the federal prison system. In 1997, federal prisoners were subjected to nearly 130,000 drug tests. Additionally, the number of inmates required to receive treatment more than tripled (from 5,450 in FY 1993 to 17,943 in FY 1997).
Multiplied the Number of Drug Courts. As part of the 1994 Crime Act, the President fought to launch a $1 billion initiative to spread Drug Courts across the country. Drug Courts use drug testing, sanctions and -- when necessary -- treatment to cut crime and addiction. Drug Courts have increased from a mere handful in 1993, to more than 200 that are operational today.