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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.
With assistance from my L.A. Lisa Herbold.
Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.
- The Drug Policy Project
- Drug Policy Brown Bag Next Thursday
- Highlights From The King County Bar Report
The Drug Policy Project
The Drug Policy Project was established by the King County Bar Association in the fall of 2000. Its purpose was to analyze the effectiveness of existing drug policies and to explore alternatives. The Drug Policy Project was made up of three policy-oriented task forces. They focused on prevention strategies, treatment strategies, and the current use of criminal sanctions. The King County Medical Association, the Washington State Bar Association, the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington State Pharmacy Association all participated in this effort.
The work of the Drug Policy Project comes at a critical time. In King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng’s Policy Paper, Beyond the “War”: Using the Criminal Justice System to Bring Addicts Into Treatment, he recognizes that “the only way to fulfill the promise of integrating treatment options into the Criminal Justice system is to reduce prison sentences and re-invest the savings realized by the Department of Corrections into building a treatment infrastructure at the local level.”
The City of Seattle has a probable General Fund shortfall of $30 million in 2003. King County government is in the same boat. We are collectively, policy makers and activists alike, beginning to understand that given our current budget realities we can’t afford effective drug prevention and treatment without also exploring ways to gain jail savings. We are also beginning to question the long term impact of drug enforcement strategies that, in many cases, do more damage than good to our communities.
Drug Policy Brown Bag Next Thursday
On Thursday, February 28, from Noon-1:30 PM, I will be hosting a Brown Bag Discussion on The King County Bar Association December 2001 Report: “Is It Time to End The War on Drugs?” This forum is in open session in the City Council Chambers 11th Floor Municipal Building, 600 4th Avenue.
Joining me at the table will be: Seattle City Councilmember Jim Compton, Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske, Edsonya Charles, (from the Mayor’s Office), and Dan Satterberg (from King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng’s Office), Lisa Daugaard (of the Seattle/King County Public Defender Association), Kay Godefroy (of the Seattle Neighborhood Group), Roger Goodman (of the King County Bar Association), Patti Hartley (private citizen), Jane Kennedy (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), Andy Ko, (ACLU), Karen W. Murray (President, Loren Miller Bar Association), and Kris Nyrop (Executive Director of Street Outreach Services).
If this is not enough to pique your interest, here are some highlights from the report. http://www.kcba.org/drug_law/druglaw_index.htm is the link to the site and all the KCBA’s posted documents
Highlights From The King County Bar Report
For every dollar spent on prevention, we can save 4-5 dollars in costs for drug treatment and counseling.
Blacks are 36.8% of those arrested and 58% of those in prisons for drug felonies. Yet in 1998 whites were 72% of all users, blacks 15%, and Hispanics 10%.
In 1996, drug abuse cost the Washington state budget $1.51 billion, more than 10% of the state budget.
1/2 King County’s criminal caseload is drug-related.
Students convicted of robbery or murder are eligible for federal financial aid. A student convicted of drug possession is not. In 2001, 35,000 students in the US have lost financial aid due to drug convictions.
The median sentence for murder/manslaughter is 40.1 months, for drug offenses 40.0 months.
In 1999, marijuana offenses were 31% of all federal drug cases, cocaine 28%, crack 15%, methamphetamine 15%, and opiates (including heroin), 7%.
In 1994, 18% of AIDS cases in WA were traceable to exposure from injection drug users. In 1999 it was 28%.
Since 1989, WA’s prison population increased by 125%, exceeding the 22% increase in the population.
Today, a non-violent drug crime is the most serious charge for 24% of inmates compared with 17% in 1990.
Each high school dropout entering a life of drug abuse and crime costs society $1.7 to $2.3 million.
Sobering isn’t it?
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