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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                      (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
For Immediate Release                                  February 14, 1998
                             TO THE NATION

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Our most important task in the coming years is to strengthen America for the 21st century. Nothing weakens our families and the fabric of our nation more than the use, abuse, and sale of drugs.

Today I want to talk about what we all must do to protect our children and keep our communities safe from drugs. I'm very pleased to be joined by the leader of our anti-drug efforts, General Barry McCaffrey. Let's begin by recognizing that the fight against drugs must be waged and won at kitchen tables all across America. Even the world's most thorough anti-drug strategy won't ever do the job unless all of us pass on the same clear and simple message to our children: drugs are wrong; drugs are dangerous; and drugs can kill you. That is our most powerful anti-drug strategy.

We've had some very encouraging news in recent months. We're finding that more and more of our young people are saying no to drugs, and we can all take great pride in the fact that the number of Americans who use drugs has fallen by one-half since 1979. But that number is still too large. That's why I'm proposing a new 10-year plan to meet one unambiguous goal: we can and must cut drug use in America by another 50 percent. This plan builds on our strategy of tougher punishment, better prevention, and more partnerships to shut down the international drug trade. It proves that we can balance the budget and win our fight against drugs.

First, we must keep our children from ever trying drugs in the first place. We'll send prevention educators to 6,500 schools nationwide. Our national youth anti-drug media campaign will ensure that every time our children turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or surf the Internet they'll get the powerful message that drugs destroy lives. Because most young people get in trouble after school and before their parents get home, we'll expand after-school programs dramatically to help keep our children off the streets, away from drugs, and out of trouble.

Second, we'll hire 1,000 more border patrol agents, work closely with neighboring countries, and use the latest technologies to keep more drugs from coming into America in the first place.

Third, we will strengthen law enforcement by finishing the job of putting 100,000 more community police on our streets, hiring 100 more DEA agents to crack down on methamphetamines, and launching a new effort against heroin.

And, finally, we will stop the revolving door between drugs and crime by expanding testing and treatment of prisoners and parolees. Our prisons simply must not be allowed to become finishing schools for a life of crime.

A study released by the Justice Department today confirms that our policy of testing and treatment is working. It shows that federal inmates who received drug treatment were 73 percent less likely to be re-arrested and 44 percent less likely to test positive for drugs in the first six months after their release than those who did not receive treatment. Not too long ago, there were some who said our fight against drugs and crime was hopelessly lost. Well, crime has fallen every year for the last five years and now the tide is turning against drugs.

With this comprehensive strategy, I am confident that we can build a stronger drug-free America for the 21st century.

Thanks for listening.