Thursday, January 24, 2008

Great News! Narc Task Forces lose federal grant money!

This letter appeared in yesterday's editorial section of the Birmingham News


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

*Not enough money for war on drugs: *

Alabama has 31 law-enforcement, multijurisdictional, drug task forces that
are primarily funded through federal funds.

The task forces are the front line on the war on drugs, in which about 26,000 Americans die each year. The vast majority of these task forces
operate in rural areas where law enforcement does not have the resources to
protect the citizens.

Congress recently passed the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. This bill
included a cut of about 67 percent of the funding to local law-enforcement
drug task forces. The Byrne-JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) has been
authorized at a level of $1.1 billion by the U.S. Senate. However,
continuous budget cuts have resulted in the reduction of funding to the
level of $170 million for the 2008 budget. This figure also includes funding
for drug courts, treatment and prevention.

In comparison, the 2007 budget had a somewhat acceptable level of funding at
$520 million. The citizens of Alabama need to be aware of this drastic cut
in funding. These drug task forces will not be able to be effective, or
exist, at this funding level.

Jim Henderson

Vice president

Alabama Narcotic Officers

Association

Birmingham


Let's pick this apart piece by piece.

Alabama has 31 law-enforcement, multijurisdictional, drug task forces that are primarily funded through federal funds.

So, we have 31 federalized drug cop units operating within our borders. That's a HUGE amount.

The task forces are the front line on the war on drugs, in which about 26,000 Americans die each year.

I wonder if the number of deaths he is attributing to the 'war on drugs' are deaths caused by overdose, spread of disease, gang violence or a combination of those things? Where does he get that number? Let's say that 26,000 people die from an overdose using illegal drugs. Is that really enough to declare a war? Look at this annual causes of death in the US chart.

Tobacco = 435,000

Poor Diet and Physical Inactivity = 365,000

Alcohol = 85,000

Microbial Agents = 75,000

Toxic Agents = 55,000

Motor Vehicle Crashes = 26,347

Adverse Reactions to Prescription Drugs = 32,000

Suicide = 30,622

Incidents Involving Firearms = 29,000

Homicide = 20,308

Sexual Behaviors = 20,000

All Illicit Drug Use, Direct and Indirect = 17,000

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Such As Aspirin = 7,600

Marijuana = 0

If the number of people dying due to drug use is grounds for a war then why no war on tobacco, alcohol, automobiles, firearms, people who make poor eating choices, prescription drugs, sexual behaviors and aspirin? And why in the hell is there one on marijuana, since it doesn't kill anyone? According to a recent story in the Birmingham News 50% of all drug arrests in Alabama are for simple marijuana possession. How many people die a year in drug raids where marijuana is the only drug involved? All drug task forces do is round up low level users and 'dealers' who generally only sell enough to support their own habit. They never get major kingpins because if they did they would be out of a job.

The vast majority of these task forces operate in rural areas where law enforcement does not have the resources to protect the citizens.

Finally, an admission that the drug war is a way to centralize the power of the federal government in rural areas.

Congress recently passed the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. This bill included a cut of about 67 percent of the funding to local law-enforcement drug task forces.

Hooray! Congress finally did something right!

The Byrne-JAG (Justice Assistance Grant) has been authorized at a level of $1.1 billion by the U.S. Senate. However,continuous budget cuts have resulted in the reduction of funding to the level of $170 million for the 2008 budget. This figure also includes funding for drug courts, treatment and prevention.

Very, very little of the many millions that have poured into this state in the form of Byrne Grants has ever been used for treatment, drug courts and prevention. The ADECA website states that emphasis for receiving a BYRNE Grant is based on (a) The number one priority is for multi-unit drug task forces, all other programs from the 28 approved BJA list will receive a lower priority as established by the Drug Advisory Board.

Well, maybe they used some of it to pay DARE officers...but that doesn't really count as prevention, since DARE has ever been shown to prevent drug use and has actually been shown to increase it among kids.

I don't have a breakdown right this second on how the BYRNE Grant money was used. Cops tend to circle the wagons when you ask questions about oversight, accountability for the money and so forth. Same with asset forfeiture. How much do they get to keep? But, if the money was actually used for drug courts and treatment then how come Alabama is still struggling to get drug courts in all 67 counties and how come we have an appalling lack of treatment beds available in this state? Obviously the majority of BYRNE grant money has not been used on those things.

In comparison, the 2007 budget had a somewhat acceptable level of funding at$520 million. The citizens of Alabama need to be aware of this drastic cut in funding.

Thanks for the heads up buddy!

These drug task forces will not be able to be effective, or exist, at this funding level.


That is indeed the best news I have heard in a long time. That means fewer 3 a.m. no-knock drug raids where women holding infants get their heads blown off. It means fewer bullshit warrants and kangaroo trials.

Let's take a minute and see what kinds of things are done in this country by drug task forces who are funded by BYRNE grants and what other bad things we can expect a reduction in.

Tulia, Texas
Mansfield, Ohio
Atlanta, Georgia
Huntsville, Alabama
A long list of people killed by drug task forces.

The drug war isn't working. Why keep pumping money into a program where repeated failures are used as a justification for continued existence and more funding?

Also worth noting is the babyish whining going on over at AlaNarc because their toy money got cut. I thought big boys didn't cry? Wussies! Now they'll be forced to go out and fight real crime like burglary, rape, arson, car-jacking and murder. According to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center those clearance rates are ABYSMAL.

Then check out the National Narcotics Assoc. newsletter about their 2000 convention in Montgomery, AL. Here is a picture of these fearless drug warriors getting drunk in front of Hank Williams grave.



Ain't they cute? Aside from the obvious irony of them publicly ingesting a drug that causes more death and disease than all illegal ones combined their choice of Hank William's grave site as a place for this picture baffles me. Didn't Hank Williams die of an alcohol/barbiturate Singapore Sling combo overdose while laid out in the back seat of his Cadillac?

3 comments:

Christie said...

Woohoo! Things are looking up :)

~~alapoet~~ said...

Woo hoo!

Hopefully, Congress will notice that the World Doesn't End after trimming the pork barrel largesse to the drug warriors, and cut the funding even more.

eleksus said...

I can't believe the government is cutting funding to something other than educational programs.

I feel like I'm dreaming... thanks for the great news!