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1 US NC: Habitual Offender Ruling Could Lessen Number of InmatesFri, 26 Dec 2003
Source:Free Press, The (NC) Author:Smith, Barry Area:North Carolina Lines:59 Added:12/30/2003

Raleigh - A ruling by the N.C. Court of Appeals in November could have an impact on the state's habitual felon law and consequently on the number of people who serve time because of it.

The opinion, written by Judge Ann Marie Calabria, ruled that possession of cocaine is a misdemeanor and conviction of that charge cannot be used to trigger the habitual felon law.

"Although possession of cocaine may be punished as a felony, the statute plainly defines it as a misdemeanor," Calabria wrote.

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2 US CO: Feds Refuse Order to Return MarijuanaTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) Author:Sarche, Jon Area:Colorado Lines:61 Added:12/30/2003

In a clash between state and federal law, a Routt County man whose medical marijuana was seized in a law enforcement raid was still waiting to get it back Monday.

A county judge had set the date as the deadline for the government to return the marijuana.

A federal official said the government had no intention of giving it back.

Nine members of a drug task force made up of local and federal officers seized the drug and other items from Hayden resident Don Nord in October.

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3 US MD: Strip-Search Ruled Illegal in Drug ArrestTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Washington Times (DC)          Area:Maryland Lines:63 Added:12/30/2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) -- The Court of Special Appeals has reversed the drug conviction of Chris Nieves, ruling that police obtained evidence during an unconstitutional strip-search of the Washington County man.

Mr. Nieves had been sentenced to 10 years in prison after bags of crack cocaine were found in his rectum.

A unanimous ruling last week by a three-judge panel said any search is an invasion of an individual's privacy, "but a strip search procedure flies in the face of individual privacy rights. Strip searches, moreover, particularly intrude upon the individual's sanctity of his own body."

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4 US VA: Drugs War Filling Virginia's PrisonsWed, 31 Dec 2003
Source:News & Advance, The (VA) Author:Freehling, Bill Area:Virginia Lines:143 Added:12/30/2003

If battles are won by taking prisoners, the United States is dominating the war being waged on drugs.

The number of drug offenders in federal prisons increased about 2,000 percent between 1970 and 2002. Drug arrests rose 66 percent in Virginia between 1990 and 1997. And in Lynchburg, there were nearly six times more drug arrests in 1999 than 1980.

But with incarceration costs soaring and a majority of drug offenders ending up back in prison soon after their release, some are questioning the tactics being used to address the problem.

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5 US NC: State Held Captive by Need for PrisonsFri, 26 Dec 2003
Source:Free Press, The (NC) Author:Smith, Barry Area:North Carolina Lines:116 Added:12/30/2003

RALEIGH - When it comes to building enough prison cells to hold the state's inmates, North Carolina is barely treading water.

The state just opened one 1,000-cell prison in Scotland County, will soon open another in Anson County and plans to open another in Alexander County next spring. The state also has approved a new prison in Greene County.

"Even with those ... we're still going to have more folks in our system than we have bed capacity for," said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Correction.

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6 US MA: Column: American 'Values' Cast a Global ShadowTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Boston Globe (MA) Author:Carroll, James Area:Massachusetts Lines:93 Added:12/30/2003

THIS HAS BEEN the year of American democracy. The values of this nation have never been more dramatically on display before the world. "Freedom" has been the watch word, from Operation Iraqi Freedom to the coming Freedom Tower at Ground Zero in New York. In a period of enormous stress, America has pulled itself together, freshly defined its beliefs, and begun to press them on others. Washington aims at nothing less than the propagation of US notions of civil order and social justice everywhere. And why shouldn't citizens be proud? But this vision throws a shadow. Contradictions of American idealism have also been manifest with rare clarity this year -- and not only in wars abroad. A signal event took place in Massachusetts as the year approached its end. A jury made up of citizens of one of the relatively few states that outlaws the death penalty nevertheless imposed it in the federal murder case against Gary Lee Sampson, the brutal killer of Jonathan Rizzo and Philip McCloskey. As advocates of the death penalty hoped, this decision in the heart of a community that has long rejected capital punishment -- the last execution in Massachusetts was in 1947 -- speeds America's complete return to frontier justice.

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7 US AK: Alaskans to Vote on Pot Legalization in '04 ElectionTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Juneau Empire (AK) Author:Inklebarger, Timothy Area:Alaska Lines:48 Added:12/30/2003

Registered voters will get a chance to decide next year whether to legalize private use of marijuana for Alaskans 21 and older.

Lt. Gov. Loren Leman notified initiative sponsors in late November that the petition has the 28,782 signatures necessary to get the question on the 2004 ballot. Sponsors must collect signatures equal to 10 percent of those who voted in the most recent general election.

Since the marijuana initiative was filed prior to the 2002 election, it is based on 10 percent of the voters in the 2000 general election.

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8 US AL: Series: Where It Begins (9 Of 16)Tue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Daily Home, The (Talladega, AL) Author:Sinclair, Denise Area:Alabama Lines:317 Added:12/30/2003

Statistics give local students mixed grades on drug use. (Jerry Martin/The Daily Home) When it comes to drug use in schools, area youths receive mixed grades. Data indicates a higher percentage of use in grades six, seven and eight locally compared to nationally. But fewer students in grades nine, 10 and 11 are using drugs than the national average.

Sylacauga, Pell City, Talladega city and Talladega County are among more than 9,500 school systems nationally that use the PRIDE survey to measure illicit drug use. PRIDE stands for Parents Resource Institute for Drug Education.

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9 US TN: Addictions Keeping Homeless On StreetsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Author:Edmondson, Aimee Area:Tennessee Lines:124 Added:12/30/2003

On Any Given Day In Shelby County, 2,000 Find Themselves Without A Place To Live

MEMPHIS - Under the stench of urine and an unwashed blanket, Johnnie Jones dug a wedding band out of his jeans pocket and slipped it on his left ring finger.

Addiction robbed him of his marriage years ago.

"It's alcohol. Not crack," the homeless 45-year-old said.

Jones has been on the streets for the past two decades, a mainstay at the soup kitchen and day-labor line.

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10 US NY: Wayne's DARE Program To EndMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Finger Lakes Times (NY) Author:Mansfield, Howie Area:New York Lines:81 Added:12/30/2003

LYONS - Beginning Jan. 1, Wayne County's Drug Abuse Resistance Education - or DARE - program will end. The often-analyzed drug abuse prevention class was a victim of a difficult economy, said Sheriff Richard Pisciotti.

"Yes, DARE was cut in the 2004 county budget. There has been a lot more pressure on the county, with an increase of calls, and that won't change," said Pisciotti. "We had to make a decision on economics."

The savings to the county will be between $10,000 and $15,000.

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11 US NC: Editorial: Court Walking Thin Line On ADA And AddictionMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Free Press, The (NC)          Area:North Carolina Lines:62 Added:12/30/2003

In the quintessential example of the law of unintended consequences, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn't protect workers fired for breaking company rules. At least that's what the ruling seems to say.

Joel Hernandez, an employee of Hughes Missile Systems, was fired in 1991 after he tested positive for cocaine use. Two years later, after kicking his habit, Hernandez applied to be rehired. Hughes turned him down, citing a policy against rehiring former employees dismissed for breaking company rules.

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12 US NC: Editorial: Prison Time Should Fit The CrimeTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Shelby Star, The (NC)          Area:North Carolina Lines:71 Added:12/30/2003

It seems that North Carolina is barely able to build prisons fast enough to meet the demands of an increasing prison population.

Two new 1,000-bed prisons just opened and another one should be ready to receive inmates by the spring. And plans are already under way to build and open three more such prisons over the next couple of years or so.

All that construction and the hundreds of millions that will be spent in building them - we don't want to house inmates in cells with shoddy construction, after all - is projected to meet the state's prison population needs through 2007.

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13 US NC: Editorial: Zeal For Jailing Costs Taxpayers In New PrisonsSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Free Press, The (NC)          Area:North Carolina Lines:71 Added:12/30/2003

It seems that North Carolina is barely able to build prisons fast enough to meet the demands of an increasing prison population.

Two new 1,000-bed prisons just opened and another one should be ready to receive inmates by the spring. And plans are already under way to build and open three more such prisons over the next couple of years or so, including one in Greene County.

All that construction and the hundreds of millions that will be spent in building them - we don't want to house inmates in cells with shoddy construction, after all - is projected to meet the state's prison population needs through 2007.

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14 US VA: Methadone Clinic Meeting Draws Full HouseTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Bristol Herald Courier (VA) Author:Dumond, Chris Area:Virginia Lines:114 Added:12/30/2003

ABINGDON - When attorney Mike Bragg asked the crowd of more than 160 residents Monday night to stand up or raise their hands if they oppose a proposed methadone clinic in Washington County, all but two or three did just that.

The residents attended a called meeting of the county's Board of Supervisors, which gathered to hear concerns and comments about the clinic.

Earlier this month, South Carolina-based Appalachian Treatment Services asked the county for permission to locate a methadone clinic on Old Dominion Road near the Lowry Hills subdivision outside Bristol. Bragg represents homeowners in the subdivision who have come out strongly against the clinic with petitions and a letter-writing campaign.

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15US GA: Criminal Justice Must Be Reformed, Group SaysTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) Author:Tharpe, Jim Area:Georgia Lines:Excerpt Added:12/30/2003

Georgia's indigent defense system should be fully funded and mandatory sentencing laws reconsidered when the state Legislature convenes next month, a group of lawmakers, judges and civil rights advocates said Monday.

Presenting the findings of a Clark Atlanta University symposium on criminal justice reform, the group called on state leaders to look at alternative sentencing and drug treatment for nonviolent offenders, who make up about 65 percent of Georgia's growing prison population. The group also wanted legislators to review the "two strikes" law, which sends all twice-convicted violent felons to prison for life.

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16 US NC: Editorial: State Should Look At Sentencing LawsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Jacksonville Daily News (NC)          Area:North Carolina Lines:72 Added:12/30/2003

It seems that North Carolina is barely able to build prisons fast enough to meet the demands of an increasing prison population.

Two new 1,000-bed prisons just opened and another one should be ready to receive inmates by the spring. And plans are already under way to build and open three more such prisons over the next couple of years or so.

All that construction and the hundreds of millions that will be spent in building them - we don't want to house inmates in cells with shoddy construction, after all - are projected to meet the state's prison population needs through 2007.

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17 US AL: Series: A Different Education (12 Of 16)Tue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Daily Home, The (Talladega, AL) Author:Sinclair, Denise Area:Alabama Lines:289 Added:12/30/2003

The front-line soldiers in the war on drugs don't carry guns or badges, they don't raid crack houses or make arrests. They are the teachers and school professionals who are the primary source of drug education for youths ages 10 to 18, and their actions may be the key to stemming the growing illegal drug problem in the South, according to a national survey that schools across the area took part in during the 2002-2003 school year.

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18US NY: Auditor: Anti-Drug Tactics FlawedTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Post-Standard, The (NY) Author:Weibezahl, Sue Area:New York Lines:Excerpt Added:12/30/2003

Consider Decriminalization and Alternatives to Arrest, Minch Lewis Says.

Decriminalizing drugs might be a way to cut down on the crime associated with the sale of illegal substances, City Auditor Minch Lewis said.

The Syracuse Police Department is spending an inordinate amount of time and money addressing the drug problem in the city, but would be more effective if its focus changed, said Lewis, who leaves office Wednesday after two, four-year terms.

The report he's been preparing since April is his "last hurrah," he said. He said he'd hoped to get it finished this fall, but it took some time to compile the information.

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19 US NC: Column: Ambassador Clueless About Drug War's ImpactTue, 30 Dec 2003
Source:Jefferson Post, The (NC) Author:Hightower, Jim Area:North Carolina Lines:54 Added:12/30/2003

Time for another Gooberhead Award, presented periodically to those in the news who have their tongues running a hundred miles an hour ... but who forgot to put their brains in gear.

Today's award is shared by the U.S. ambassador to Bolivia and his higherups who are in charge of America's screwy drug policy. What's screwy in this case is Washington's insistence that our homegrown cocaine problem can be solved if only impoverished farmers in Bolivia and elsewhere can be forced to stop growing coca. But these farmers point out that - Hello! - coca is not cocaine. It's just a leaf crop that they've been growing and consuming for centuries, since before there was a USofA, with the leaves themselves simply chewed by the native people as a safe and mild stimulant - much as coffee is used by us Americans every day.

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20 US TN: Tennessee Battles Meth, Pot In War On DrugsSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Elizabethton Star (TN) Author:Morris, Abby Area:Tennessee Lines:100 Added:12/30/2003

As Tennessee prepares to start the new year, some old acquaintances will not be forgotten.

Despite tougher laws and increased enforcement efforts, the drug problem in Tennessee continues to be strong with both domestically produced drugs as wells as trafficking operations throughout the state.

"The drug problems we find here in Tennessee, throughout the state, cocaine remains a problem, methamphetamine is a huge problem and here in East Tennessee, marijuana is a problem because it is a natural grow area for marijuana," said Harry Sommers, special agent in charge for Drug Enforcement Administration operations in Tennessee.

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21 US CA: New Vehicle Laws Take Effect on New Year's DayMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Sacramento Observer (CA) Author:Lanaras, James Area:California Lines:67 Added:12/30/2003

Drivers Not Allowed To Watch Television Screens

California drivers face new vehicle laws that take effect on Jan. 1.

The fine for seat belt violations will double to a maximum of $41. It increases to a maximum of $106 for a second offense, depending on the county, the California Highway Patrol said. The figures include court costs.

Parents face misdemeanor charges if they knowingly supply alcohol to anyone under age 21 who then drives and causes a traffic collision.

Drivers under age 17-and-a-half will have to complete a driver education course before they can get an instruction permit. Currently a 15-year-old may get a permit if he or she is already enrolled in an instruction course. Drivers under age 18 must still have a licensed adult driver present in their vehicle for the first six months on their provisional driver's license.

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22 US TN: Meth Hurts KidsFri, 26 Dec 2003
Source:Tullahoma News (TN) Author:Thomas, Wayne Area:Tennessee Lines:113 Added:12/29/2003

Following a recent intense statewide conference on the problems dealing with methamphetamines, figures show that 25 children in Franklin County have been removed their families by law enforcement and the Department of Child Services.

According to Cindy Kilpatrick of the Department of Child Services (DCS), from January to November of this year, the department has taken custody of 78 children this year in the county and of that number, 25 were removed from homes where meth was being produced.

"There have been some children who were removed but were placed with relatives, rather than us taking them," Kilpatrick explained.

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23US FL: Coke, Buys And VideotapeSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Pensacola News Journal (FL) Author:Bollman, Amber Area:Florida Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

How A Clandestine Operation Foiled A Pensacola Drug Ring

It's the ultimate in close-quarters surveillance, and it's something that just doesn't happen in Pensacola.

Perhaps in high profile, organized-crime investigations in New York City and Chicago. Or during large-scale South Florida busts that net hundreds of pounds of seized drugs.

"Operation Sandshaker," the federal investigation into a cocaine ring that led to 41 arrests this month, marks one of the first times authorities in Northwest Florida have installed hidden cameras inside a suspect's home.

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24 US OR: LTE: Juntos Helps KidsWed, 24 Dec 2003
Source:Hood River News (OR) Author:Cushing, Judy Area:Oregon Lines:38 Added:12/29/2003

No matter how you slice it, the Juntos Project that U.S. Rep. Greg Walden helped secure in Congress for the Hood River and Beaverton school districts is the exact opposite of "pork barrel" spending that Tad McGeer of Underwood, Wash., complained about in a Dec. 13 letter.

The Juntos Project will help minority students increase academic achievement, reduce alcohol and drug abuse in their communities and increase parental involvement in their children's education. This project will save taxpayers money in the long run by keeping children off drugs and alcohol, and by reducing law enforcement and correction costs that are part of the tab for substance abuse.

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25US AL: The Phases Of Escambia County's Drug CourtMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Mobile Register (AL)          Area:Alabama Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

Phase I: Participants must secure employment, perform community service or enroll in school; begin paying any restitution or fines owed; pay $31.75 a week for treatment; attend treatment sessions three times a week; work toward securing graduation equivalency, driver license and voter registration when possible; report to court every Friday; observe 11 p.m. curfew; remain clean and sober and submit to frequent drug tests.

Phase II: Participants must continue the elements of Phase I but attend treatment sessions twice weekly and report to court every other Friday.

Phase III: Participants must successfully complete all tasks outlined in Phase I, have clean drug tests for six months; attend sessions once weekly and report to court once a month. To graduate from the program, all fines and fees must be paid in full.


26US LA: Laws Target Wayward Students, Tax CheatsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Times-Picayune, The (LA) Author:Maggi, Laura Area:Louisiana Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

And Booster Seats Required Up To Age 6

BATON ROUGE -- Misbehaving students will pay a higher price for bringing guns or drugs to school beginning Thursday, losing their driver's licenses for a year if they are suspended or expelled for certain offenses. Meanwhile, cheats who fail to pay state income tax could lose not only their driving privileges, but also the right to hunt and fish in Louisiana.

Under another of two dozen new laws that take effect on New Year's Day, parents taking young children out for a drive will need to make sure they are secured in a child restraint or booster seat, as the state has increased the mandatory age for car seats to apply to youngsters up to age 6.

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27 US AL: PUB LTE: Methadone Has Proven BenefitsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Birmingham News, The (AL) Author:Garrett, Bill Area:Alabama Lines:50 Added:12/29/2003

A recent letter writer argued that the treatment that worked in his recovery is appropriate for other opiate addicts and that methadone treatment denies them "true recovery, keeping them in a helpless state of mind."

This one-size-fits-all mentality contradicts the fact that people have varying benefits from similar treatments for any disease. For opiate addiction, there is no single treatment that works best for everyone.

The writer holds that methadone treatment is "replacing one drug for another." By this reasoning, a person "self-medicating" with alcohol for depression should not take antidepressant medications, but should just quit the booze and buck up.

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28US AL: Drug Court Participant 'Trying To Stay On Top Of Things'Mon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Mobile Register (AL) Author:Baggett, Connie Area:Alabama Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

BREWTON -- Dianna Wiggins stood before the judge in her work uniform, smiling, eyes bright and confidence apparent.

She told the judge about moving into her own apartment with a roommate, a friend from her job at the Huddle House restaurant, and about promo tions she earned at work.

Wiggins had been clean and sober for nine months, the cravings for methamphetamine a manageable part of her recovery so far.

"I feel my independence growing," Wiggins told the Mobile Register. "Wednesday I'll get paid and I can catch up my treatment fees. I'm trying to stay on top of things, keep my bills paid. This program saved my life, and I'm going to make the most of it."

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29 US NV: Reno Judge In Jail After Being Sentenced For DUISun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Bakersfield Californian, The (CA)          Area:Nevada Lines:26 Added:12/29/2003

A family drug court judge was in jail after he was sentenced to two days behind bars for drunken driving.

Washoe County District Judge Charles McGee also was ordered to pay nearly $700 in fines, attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings five times a week, submit to daily Breathalyzer tests for six months and attend a DUI victim impact panel.

McGee, a district judge since 1984 and founder of the county's family drug court, was arrested Dec. 9 after being stopped for failure to maintain a lane.

A test showed he had a blood alcohol level of .18 percent, more than twice the legal limit of .08 percent.


30 US AL: LTE: No Early Release For State Inmates:Mon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Birmingham News, The (AL) Author:Vise, Adam Area:Alabama Lines:37 Added:12/29/2003

I don't think it is right to let people out of prison early. Their punishment is not being served; it is not fair to other people; and it's not safe for the community. I think the whole idea is stupid.

When you do something bad, you are supposed to be punished for it. If we are just letting them out of prison early, then they are not being punished. If they can get out early, don't you think they are just going to do it again?

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31US NY: OPED: Anti-Drug Policy Must Target DemandMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Times Union (Albany, NY) Author:Zirin, James D. Area:New York Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

The illegal drug trade may be the only free market left in the world. It operates without tariffs, taxes or unions. It is the classic economic model: low production costs, dependable avenues of distribution, a price structure dictated solely by supply and demand, and, with more sophisticated methods of money laundering, a way of getting huge returns quickly.

But drug trafficking is contrary to U.S. laws and policy. And drugs are a dagger to the heart of civilized society. Yet U.S. policy has done nothing to deal with the core of the problem -- curtailing demand. At the same time, the United States has spent much and accomplished precious little when it comes to eradicating the supply.

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32 US OR: PUB LTE: War On Drugs Programs Waste Billions Of DollarsSat, 27 Dec 2003
Source:News Register (OR) Author:Compton, Blaze Area:Oregon Lines:47 Added:12/29/2003

To the Editor:

Regarding the recent drug search at Dayton high and junior high schools: Drug sniffing dogs? 17 hits? No results! Wasted time. Wasted resources, embarrassed and shaken-up kids. But it was for their own good, right? A powerful and effective message was sent. Right? Not hardly.

How many billions of dollars, how many thousands of wasted lives, how many inept, neanderthal policies is it going to take for us, as a society, to wake up to the glaring fact that the 30-year War on Drugs has been a complete and utter failure. With absolutely no significant success, the war should be scrapped in its entirety, with all the inane and fruitless "Just Say No" and DARE-type programs dismantled from top to bottom, immediately.

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33 US: Worried Pain Doctors Decry ProsecutionsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Kaufman, Marc Area:United States Lines:288 Added:12/29/2003

Jeri Hassman, one of Tucson's busiest pain doctors and a specialist in rehabilitation, was getting ready to inject a patient with a pain-killing treatment one day in March when federal officials burst into her Calmwood clinic, took off her jewelry, put her in handcuffs and led her to jail.

Months earlier, Drug Enforcement Administration agents had placed the doctor and some of her patients under surveillance and had sent in undercover patients complaining of pain. They knew that large doses of morphine-based drugs such as OxyContin and Lortab were showing up around Tucson in the wrong hands, and Hassman was suspected of writing some of the prescriptions that made that possible.

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34US AL: 'I'm Not Giving Up,' Says Man of Fight Against DrugMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Mobile Register (AL) Author:Baggett, Connie Area:Alabama Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

BREWTON -- Richard Allen Faulkner, 43, sat nervously with his bag packed at his feet in the courtroom.

Too many times in recent weeks, he had faced the judge knowing he would spend time in jail for using crack cocaine. Faulkner is an addict struggling to beat his cravings and stay in an alternative sentencing program, Escambia County Drug Court, that could wipe out felony charges and help him start a new life.

But he needs to find a way to stay clean and sober, he said.

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35 US OR: PUB LTE: War on DrugsMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Alternatives for Cultural Creativity (Salem, OR) Author:Hill, Mark Area:Oregon Lines:40 Added:12/29/2003

Dear Editor

The immorality and the cost of the War on Drugs harm us more than the drugs themselves. With 10 years of experience in law enforcement, (Illinois Dept. of Corrections), I have met many convicted drug offenders, "BAD" people labeled as a threat to my family and me. I assure you I'd have no qualms living next door to the vast majority, and I have two small girls, 6 and 7 yrs.

Make no mistake, drugs are bad and can ruin a person's life-but we have more people killed in drug-related shootings than in overdoses.

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36US CA: Major Parole Moves on the TableSat, 27 Dec 2003
Source:Sacramento Bee (CA) Author:Delsohn, Gary Area:California Lines:Excerpt Added:12/29/2003

The governor's ideas, if enacted, would reduce the prison population and save millions of dollars.

Convinced that California can no longer afford its $5.3 billion prison and parole system, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is exploring moves that would all but eliminate parole conditions for nonviolent, nonserious offenders and eventually -- through early release and lighter penalties -- dramatically shrink the prison population.

Some of the moves result from recent court settlements. Others are efforts whose planning began under former Gov. Gray Davis and have been speeded up by Schwarzenegger.

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37 US PA: High-Dosage Opioids Saved His Life, Patient SaysMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Washington Post (DC) Author:Kaufman, Marc Area:Pennsylvania Lines:65 Added:12/29/2003

Jay Steffler spent more than eight years in pain and in bed after a hospital accident that left him with a rare ailment called reflex sympathetic dystrophy. With many of his nerve endings constantly firing, Steffler, a Pittsburgh piano player and documentary maker, tried treatments from spinal blocks to acupuncture, from anti-epileptic drugs to hypnosis. Nothing helped for more than a short time, he said, and he was in near-constant pain.

In 1999, Steffler took what he considered to be the desperate step of contacting McLean pain doctor William E. Hurwitz, who had a controversial national reputation for his use of high-dosage opioids to treat and control pain. Steffler, now 44, said he had been given only small doses of opioids before seeing Hurwitz because his doctors were concerned about addiction and about drawing unwanted regulatory attention to themselves.

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38 US FL: PUB LTE: Drug Court Clogged With NonabusersMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Author:Heath, Stephen Area:Florida Lines:41 Added:12/29/2003

Robert J. Koch's cheerleading for the drug court system fails to acknowledge its fatal flaw when combined with the irrational drug policies of Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush's critical error is his failure to make any distinction between the use and the abuse of any drug, most notably marijuana. Thus, the well-intentioned drug court model is now jammed monthly with thousands of marijuana "clients" whose need for drug treatment is no more so than an alcohol user who drinks a six-pack on the weekend, or enjoys wine with his meals.

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39 US FL: PUB LTE: Drug Courts 'Solve' Imaginary ProblemMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Author:Francisco, Greg Area:Florida Lines:36 Added:12/29/2003

I read with interest a recent letter from the 11th Circuit Drug Court coordinator. Predictably, the author, like any bureaucrat, fiercely defends his domain, glossing over the glaring flaws of the system that butters his bread.

Yes, drug courts are a step forward, but only marginally when compared to the neverending Drug War Inc. By court rules, criminals with actual drug problems are not diverted to drug court; only first-time, nonviolent "offenders" are eligible. The majority of people who become entangled in the drug court morass are otherwise law-abiding folk, productive citizens and taxpayers who chose to relax in private with a joint rather than a beer. Drug courts do not distinguish between use and abuse. Nor is there one iota of evidence that "coerced treatment works" for occasional users of cannabis.

Drug courts are in the business of "solving" a problem that doesn't exist. Bureaucrats are in the business of protecting their jobs. Neither has any credibility.

Paw Paw, MI


40 US FL: LTE: Limbaugh's Case Isn't Call For ReformMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Author:Diaz, Bernie Area:Florida Lines:52 Added:12/29/2003

If anything, the tragedy of Limbaugh's addiction and of the tens of thousands of other Americans enslaved by illict drugs is that law enforcement plays a valuable role in substance abuse prevention and treatment by virtue of its coercive authority in leading nonviolent abusers and addicts to the rehabilitation they often voluntarily reject. For example, Rush would not have likely entered into treatment had he not been charged with possession.

The drug court system given birth in Miami over two decades ago has been responsible for diverting thousands of nonviolent and often first-time drug offenders from incarceration to treatment, by encouraging offenders to choose graduation from a rehab program over the more costly and debilitating option of prison time. This drug policy reform initiative has been already alive and well and should be nurtured, supported and allowed to grow, evidenced by its success in reducing recidivism (rearrest in Miami-Dade only 6 percent among graduates), in contrast to the much higher recidivism rates among non-drug court probationers.

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41 US KY: Medicaid Has Role In Drug TradeSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) Author:Estep, Bill Area:Kentucky Lines:249 Added:12/29/2003

Dealers Use Low-Copay Drug Cards To Tap Supply

Now serving a seven-year term for drug trafficking, Zola Starnes said she bought OxyContin from a Medicaid recipient who got them with his drug card for a minimal co-pay. She then resold them at a profit.

PIKEVILLE - When Zola Starnes was dealing drugs in Pike County last year, she says, she had millions of silent partners helping to ensure her supply: taxpayers.

Starnes knew a man who was entitled to a state Medicaid card, giving him access to the $3.8 billion public-health program that pays for doctor visits and prescription drugs for poor and disabled people.

[continues 1755 words]

42 US WV: OPED: Wasteful Imprisonment: State Needs MoreMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Charleston Gazette (WV) Author:Starcher, Larry Area:West Virginia Lines:87 Added:12/29/2003

The following is a concurring state Supreme Court opinion filed recently.

This case involved a man who stole some very valuable hunting dogs and radio equipment, and for this crime he was sentenced to a year in jail. It was a rotten crime, although the offender apparently had no previous criminal record and it was not a crime of violence. I concur in the court's judgment and opinion because the sentence of incarceration was within the sentencing judge's discretion.

[continues 578 words]

43 US VA: Examiner, Officials: Clinics Not Behind Methadone WoesMon, 29 Dec 2003
Source:Bristol Herald Courier (VA) Author:Still, Mike Area:Virginia Lines:117 Added:12/29/2003

BRISTOL, Va. - While methadone is becoming a growing drug problem in Southwest Virginia, some state and local law enforcement officials say methadone clinics aren't to blame.

Residents of the Lowry Hills area have risen up in opposition to a planned clinic in their neighborhood. The matter is to be taken up by the Washington County Board of Supervisors today.

Dr. William Massello, chief medical examiner for the state's western district, said his office has seen almost an exponential climb in methadone-overdose deaths since 1992. But he said he didn't believe methadone clinics have had much of an impact on that increase.

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44 US AL: Series: Opening Gates to Addiction (6 Of 16)Sun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Daily Home, The (Talladega, AL) Author:Tipton, Kelli Area:Alabama Lines:204 Added:12/29/2003

Marijuana is considered a gateway drug, and Guy Gurley of Munford is living proof that it can be. At the age of 21, Gurley smoked his first joint.

"A friend offered it to me, and I was curious and I smoked it. Then I smoked marijuana nearly every day for 10 years," he said.

He said the marijuana use led him away from his Christian upbringing and into the company of people who loved to get high.

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45 US KY: States Seek Power To Sack Those Who Abuse SystemSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Lexington Herald-Leader (KY) Author:Estep, Bill Area:Kentucky Lines:52 Added:12/29/2003

The question of whether drug dealers and other criminals can be kicked out of the Medicaid program may get fresh debate next year.

The federal Centers on Medicare & Medicaid Services is researching the issue, said Mary Kahn, a spokeswoman for the agency.

Kahn said the agency started the informal review after a Florida grand jury decided this month that taxpayers were losing tens of millions of dollars a year because of fraud in the state Medicaid program.

The problems, according to news accounts, included recipients selling their medicine on the black market, the grand jury said. It recommended a number of measures, including denying benefits to people caught repeatedly abusing the program.

[continues 220 words]

46 US NC: New Inmate Projections Indicate Steady Rise In PrisonSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Winston-Salem Journal (NC)          Area:North Carolina Lines:56 Added:12/29/2003

RALEIGH -- North Carolina is building three prisons and has approved financing for three more. That may not be enough to keep up with the parade of new prisoners.

The latest projections on the number of inmates indicate that the state will have to build several more prisons if legislators don't choose other options to reduce the need for cells.

The North Carolina Sentencing and Policy Advisory Commission's latest estimate last week indicates that the state will have 44,094 inmates behind bars by 2013, but will have only enough capacity for 37,743.

[continues 272 words]

47 US ME: Medical Pot User Says Law of Little HelpSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Kennebec Journal (ME) Author:Hickey, Colin Area:Maine Lines:90 Added:12/29/2003

Staff reporter Colin Hickey interviewed Carroll Cummings, an East Vassalboro resident, who is a medical marijuana patient. Cummings said he uses marijuana to provide relief from torticollis, a condition that causes involuntary and painful contractions of the neck muscles. He said he has been hounded for his marijuana use despite his careful attention to stay within the dictates of Maine's Medical Marijuana Law. Maine is one of nine states with such a law.

(2) How did police treat you during those searches?

[continues 434 words]

48 US GA: LTE: The Drug ScourgeSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Ledger-Enquirer (GA) Author:Qualls, Ted Area:Georgia Lines:44 Added:12/29/2003

The tragic shooting of Kenneth Walker shows this community's ongoing problem with illegal drugs. Even though Mr. Walker and his companions had nothing to do with drugs, the string of events came about because of this community's continued complacency when it comes to drug addiction.

Victims of DUI-related accidents hold establishments or individuals responsible for supplying alcohol to the offender. Some cities and individuals are holding handgun manufacturers responsible for the ever-growing violence in their communities. So whom do we hold responsible - -- the Sheriff's Department for trying to do an increasingly dangerous job, with a force that may not be up to the task? Some say the victims, for not completely complying with the deputies' directives.

[continues 158 words]

49 US OR: PUB LTE: Rx For MarijuanaSun, 28 Dec 2003
Source:Oregonian, The (Portland, OR) Author:Bayer, Richard Area:Oregon Lines:31 Added:12/29/2003

Thank you for your editorial, "Accommodating legal pot" (Dec. 20). We both agree that medical marijuana and any potentially sedating drug raise concerns in the workplace if used improperly.

Many good employees require potentially sedating but important medicines such as blood pressure medicine, opioids, antidepressants, insulin or medical marijuana.

Urine testing does not test for marijuana-caused impairment at work. It only means marijuana was used in the past few days or weeks. Instead of federally mandated urine testing for a "drug-free workplace," employers and employees should together seek an "impairment-free workplace."

If Oregon congressional representatives would initiate efforts to reschedule marijuana so doctors could prescribe it, many concerns could be resolved.

RICHARD BAYER, M.D. Southwest Portland


50 US: Illegal Drug Use On Decline Among Teens, Study FindsSun, 21 Dec 2003
Source:Chicago Sun-Times (IL) Author:Sherman, Mark Area:United States Lines:66 Added:12/28/2003

WASHINGTON -- American teenagers are cutting back on their use of illicit drugs and cigarettes, but alcohol consumption is holding steady, the government says.

An annual survey of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders done for the Health and Human Services Department found declines in use of many kinds of drugs by high school students, especially for Ecstasy and LSD.

Overall, the Bush administration said the annual survey funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed an 11 percent drop in illegal drug use in the last two years, slightly surpassing President Bush's goal of a 10 percent reduction during that period.

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