HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Agency Nominee Talks Tough Enforcement
Pubdate: Tue, 17 Jul 2001
Source: USA Today (US)
Copyright: 2001 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Donna Leinwand, USA Today


Hutchinson Says Addicts Forced By A Court To Enter A Treatment Program Fare 
Better Than Those Who Enter Voluntarily

Rep. Asa Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor who's known as a "drug 
warrior," is expected to win approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee 
Tuesday as President Bush's nominee to head the Drug Enforcement 

Hutchinson, a conservative Republican from Arkansas who helped prosecute 
President Clinton in the 1999 impeachment trial and sent Clinton's 
half-brother Roger to prison in 1984 on cocaine charges, promises 
aggressive and fair enforcement of drug laws.

If confirmed by the full Senate, he says he would run an agency that would 
not use racial profiling, would seek long prison sentences for traffickers, 
and would push for more money for air patrols over Latin American and 
Caribbean drug-running routes.

Although a tough talker when it comes to enforcement, Hutchinson says he 
supports education and treatment efforts to reduce demand in the USA for 
illegal drugs.

Hutchinson will testify before the committee today. Although he is expected 
to face some tough questioning, he is not expected to face serious opposition.

All but two of the 16 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee, on which 
Hutchinson serves, have signed a letter supporting his confirmation.

John Conyers, D-Mich., the ranking member of the House committee, will join 
Hutchinson's brother, Tim, a Republican senator from Arkansas, in 
testifying in his support.

"I think probably a lot of Asa's fervor on this issue developed from his 
life experiences," his brother says. "We had a nephew who committed suicide 
under the influence of drugs. Most families have been hit in some way by 
drugs at some time."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is likely to ask Hutchinson 
if he will support redirecting U.S. drug policy from emphasizing law 
enforcement to focusing on treatment and prevention. Leahy and the 
committee's ranking Republican, Orrin Hatch of Utah, have introduced a bill 
that would provide grants to establish drug-treatment alternatives to prison.

Hutchinson has taken a hard line on drug users. He says addicts who are 
arrested and ordered to enter a treatment program by a court fare better 
than those who enter treatment voluntarily.

More drug courts are needed "where the prison sentence is hanging over a 
person's head -- an addict's head or a user's head," Hutchinson said a year 
ago during an appearance on CNN's Crossfire. "Many of the addicts testify 
that what made them confront their drug use was a police officer arresting 

As a congressman, Hutchinson sponsored legislation last year to spend more 
money to shut down and clean up methamphetamine labs that had set up shop 
throughout Arkansas, the Midwest and Texas. He voted last year to increase 
the penalties for possessing so-called club drugs, including Ecstasy and 
the "date-rape drug" GHB, gamma hydroxybutyrate. And he supported President 
Clinton's $1.3 billion "Plan Colombia," an aid package that helped arm 
Colombia's military to fight traffickers and to eradicate drug crops.

The Asa Hutchinson File

Age: 50; born Dec. 3, 1950, in Bentonville, Ark.

Education: B.S., Bob Jones University, 1972; J.D., University of Arkansas 
School of Law, 1975.

Career: Bentonville, Ark., city attorney, 1977-78; U.S. Attorney, 1982-85; 
private practice attorney with Karr & Hutchinson in Fort Smith, Ark.; first 
elected to Congress in 1996. Served as a House manager during the 
impeachment trial of President Clinton.

Family: Married to Susan Burrell Hutchinson. They have four children: Asa 
III, Sarah, John, and Seth; and one grandchild, Asa IV. Brother is Sen. Tim 
Hutchinson, R-Ark.

Key issues: Privacy protection, prohibitions on racial profiling, legal 
assistance for victims of domestic violence; cleaning up illegal 
methamphetamine labs.

Source: USA Today Research
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