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Author Topic: How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?  (Read 4068 times)

RhythmStar

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How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?
« on: July 09, 2003, 10:30:56 pm »

Since the repeal of drug laws is a big L goal, and reducing the cost of government is a fairly universal goal across the electorate, it seems like attacking the drug laws on fiscal grounds might be an effective strategy.  At the least, it would provide a basis for showing how rank and file voters would benefit from drug law repeal, even if they could care less about unjust imprisonment.

For example, how much might New Hampshire's high property tax be reduced if there were no drug offenders in the prisons and no enforcement dollars being spent?  Are figures available for such costs on a per-offense basis?

 ???

Thanks,

RS
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Rearden

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Re:How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2003, 12:12:15 am »

Wyoming Launches Most Comprehensive Anti-Drug Plan in U.S.
                                                 11/15/2002                                         
                                       
by Bob Curley

As many states cut social-services spending and raid their portion of the 1998 nationwide tobacco settlement to close budget deficits, Wyoming has passed a remarkable piece of legislation that offers a ray of hope to advocates for treatment and prevention nationwide.

This March, the Wyoming legislature passed House Bill 59 (HB59), an integrated, statewide alcohol and other drug control plan funded with proceeds from the state's share of the tobacco settlement. The measure received bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Jim Geringer.

"For years, legislators have grappled with how to deal with an increase in criminal sentences," said Geringer. "But what we haven't done is deal with the root cause."

"Treatment saves money, and we're tired of building prisons," added Rep. Doug Osborn, the Wyoming lawmaker who sponsored HB59. "Warehousing prisoners is part of a revolving-door policy."

Remarkably, the law commits Wyoming to spending about $50 for every state resident in support of addiction prevention, early intervention, and treatment. To fund the program, $50 million in tobacco money has been placed in a trust fund; interest on that fund, plus annual settlement payments going forward, have been set aside.

To put those figures in perspective, the state of California would have to spend about $1.5 billion to make the same kind of per-capita investment in addiction programs, according to Dennis Embry, Ph.D., a prevention consultant and president and CEO of the Tucson, Ariz.-based PAXIS Institute.

Key elements of the Wyoming plan include a statewide adult and juvenile drug-court system, investment in outpatient and residential treatment programs, incentives for establishing drug-free workplaces, and utilizing community coalitions to coordinating local efforts. Increased inspection of alcohol outlets to prevent sales to minors is funded, as is a social-marketing plan aimed at reducing public tolerance for underage drinking. DUI laws are toughened, as well.

The plan also requires adherence to treatment standards and certification, use of science-based interventions, data reporting, and outcome measurements.

"We discovered that there were pockets of success here and there, but no integrated approach to the problems," said Osborn. "Three successful drug courts had been started with federal grants, but they were running out of funding. Some treatment was being done in some of the correctional facilities, but there was no follow-up or reentry programs."

Most Comprehensive Plan in U.S.

Embry, who worked with the Substance Abuse Division of the state Department of Health to craft a 2001 report on the scope of the state's drug problem and possible solutions, said that legislation passed in Wyoming is the most comprehensive plan of its type ever undertaken by a U.S. state. He said that the rare combination of adequate funding and a manageable population will make Wyoming an invaluable laboratory for studying treatment and prevention issues over the next few years.

"If Wyoming doesn't succeed, it will cast a long shadow," Embry said. "It they can't succeed with this, it will be very difficult for a larger state to marshal the same kind of resources."

The Wyoming strategy was based in part on "Reclaiming Wyoming: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Prevention, Early Intervention, and Treatment of Substance Abuse," a report authored by Embry and Rodger McDaniel, a consultant with the state health department.

But the genesis of the legislation can be traced back to 1997, when an advisory panel was formed to tackle the then-new problem of methamphetamine use and production in the state. "Methamphetamine hit hard and ruggedly in Wyoming," noted Embry, with drug-related arrests increasing tenfold between 1990 and 2000.

Significantly, meth problems crossed racial and socioeconomic bounds, bringing the drug problem home for middle- and upper-class families as well as the state's poorer communities. "It was no longer 'those people over there,' and you can't underestimate that," said Embry.

Faced with an overwhelming problem, Wyoming's Department of Criminal Investigation director, Tom Pagel, began canvassing the state, telling citizen's groups that there was no way his officers could arrest their way out of the drug problem. (When Pagel retired in April, passage of HB59 was listed as one of the major accomplishments of his 12-year tenure.)

Meanwhile, Wyoming had recently received federal funds to conduct its first comprehensive epidemiological study, which revealed that 40 percent of the  pregnant women in state clinics were smoking and drinking during their pregnancy, and 14 percent were using illicit drugs.

Finally, Wyoming received a very public black eye in 1998 when Matthew Sheppard, a 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming student, was tortured and left to die by two Laramie youths. It was later revealed that Sheppard's killers both had a history of drug problems.

"People did a good job of tying all this together" in support of HB59, said Embry.

Many Factors Contributed to Bill's Success

Osborn said casting the legislation as a child-protection measure was critical to its passage. "The reason this is not a hot-button issue with most legislators is that they do not understand the crisis they have on their hands," he said. "Most of our folks readily supported the plan when they came to understand the impact alcohol and other drugs were having on our kids, our social structure, and our state expenditures."

"How many more kids are we going to kill with the alcohol/automobile combination?" he asked. "Why should we tolerate some of the worst substance-related statistics in the country? The social costs to families, babies, and children are just too high."

Wyoming's treatment community, and to a lesser extent, its recovering community, were instrumental in educating lawmakers over a three-year period about the extent of the state's problems and how they could be addressed.

The deeper policymakers dug into the issue, the more appalled they were. By 2002, there was a recognition from the governor on down that most of what had been done in the past to combat alcohol and other drug problems in Wyoming hadn't worked, said Osborn.

"We took some initial action to shore up what we knew worked -- the drug courts," he said. "We demanded a comprehensive plan with accountability."

Equally important to the bill's passage, said Embry, was the passionate commitment demonstrated by Osborn -- a Republican lawmaker not known for his liberal leanings. "If folks are thinking about doing this elsewhere, they need to make sure they cultivate allies on the Republican side who have an aura of integrity," said Embry. "You'll go much further."

Ultimately, the law received support as diverse as the state's treatment providers and the Wyoming Business Alliance. Some antismoking advocates objected to funding the project through the tobacco settlement, but lawmakers sought to address their concerns by integrating tobacco-control efforts into the plan.

Looking for Results

With the addition of a federal State Incentive Grant (SIG), funding for Wyoming's plan could be boosted as high as $34 million annually. "I think we have a viable, external revenue stream that makes sense to most people," said Osborn. "So far, Wyoming has not suffered the effects of the economic downturn because of our minerals-based economy." Still, he said, there are no guarantees that the funding will be permanent, so advocates need to remain vigilant.

Embry said that Wyoming officials also need to be mindful of the restrictions placed on the SIG funds -- which can only be used for programs aimed at 11- to 17-year-olds, and must be based on a risk-and-protective-factors model -- and how they impact the state's overall strategy.

Embry strongly urged foundations and other government agencies with an interest in addiction issues to get involved in studying and supporting Wyoming's bold project.

"People are always talking about comprehensive approaches. Well, here it is," he said.   

From:  http://www.jointogether.org/sa/news/features/reader/0,1854,555304,00.html               
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Rearden

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Re:How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2003, 12:15:16 am »

Quote from: Keith Murphy on Today at 12:42:49am

Quote
...Remarkably, the law commits Wyoming to spending about $50 for every state resident in support of addiction prevention, early intervention, and treatment. ....

To put those figures in perspective, the state of California would have to spend about $1.5 billion to make the same kind of per-capita investment in addiction programs, according to Dennis Embry, Ph.D., a prevention consultant and president and CEO of the Tucson, Ariz.-based PAXIS Institute.

Now, according to: www.new-futures.org/publications/WeNeedToAct_2000.pdf

New Hampshire in 1997 (the only year that I have been able to yet find data for) spent ONLY $7.10  PER CAPITA FIGHTING DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION!!!!  Six years later WY is spending $50 per capita, and IT's LAW?!?!?

Pot arrests in WY went up 34.25% from 1995 to 1997, giving the state the 16th highest arrest rate in the country, and the state has committed to spend $50 per capita every year treating addiction.  Yet NH has the 4th lowest arrest rate in the nation and only spent $7.10 per capita in 1997?!?!?!!?

Yet somebody told me that the spreadsheet somehow, someway has WY higher than NH on the marijuana factor.  Curious....  I just don't see how this is possible.
                                                                                 
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RhythmStar

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Re:How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2003, 02:38:26 am »

Wow, only $3.15 million for the NH Drug & Alcohol agency?  Not bad, compared to others.  Still, that doesn't seem to include the cost of incarceration and prosecution.  Could that double the costs?  Can we shave $7 or 10 million off the NH property tax by repealing drug laws?

The huge amount Wyoming is spending in this area doesn't seem to bode very well for the abolition of the apparatus.  There are some folks extremely committed to stamping out drug use there, apparently at any price.  I'm sure that there are anti-drug zealots everywhere, but the 'at any price' part seems to be much less in New Hampshire.

Thanks for the info!

RS
« Last Edit: July 10, 2003, 02:38:51 am by RhythmStar »
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Mickey

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Re:How Much State Money Goes To Drug Laws?
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2003, 10:10:12 pm »

Sounds like WY likes their prohibition very much!  :(
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