Florida Plan Gives Money To Drug Warriors And Takes Rights From Citizens

Date: Wed, 08 Sep 1999
Subject: Florida Plan Gives Money To Drug Warriors And Takes Rights From Citizens

DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 124 September 8, 1999

Florida Plan Gives Money to Drug Warriors and Takes Rights from Citizens



DrugSense FOCUS Alert # 124 September 8, 1999

Florida Plan Gives Money to Drug Warriors and Takes Rights from Citizens

Despite the refreshing voice of New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson,
other state governors remain unwilling to retreat at all on the drug
war. In Florida, a major escalation appears to be in the works. That’s
right, from the same people who can’t understand why mutant
dope-killing fungus is a risky proposition comes a plan to spend half
a billion dollars on drug control in the state next year.

The windfall will be divided among the special interest groups that
tend to benefit most from the drug war. According to the Miami Herald
: “The crusade will include a massive increase in drug-treatment beds,
more specialized drug courts, more prosecutors, better security at
airports and seaports and a renewed emphasis on the need for parents
to talk to their kids about the dangers of drugs.”

While the profiteers dance in the street, the people of Florida have
much to fear from this plan. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is proposing to
take away the right of defendants in drug cases to depose police
officers before trial. Defense lawyers in the state worry this will
bring more weak cases to trial. Please write a letter to the Miami
Herald or other Florida newspapers to suggest that the “drug experts”
who are embracing this plan need to look beyond their own desires, and
that Florida residents need to stand up for themselves before another
one of their basic rights disappears.

Thanks for your effort and support.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

Please post a copy your letter or report your action to the MAPTalk
list if you are subscribed, or by E-mailing a copy directly to
MGreer@mapinc.org Your letter will then be forwarded to the list with
so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.


Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Contact: heralded@herald.com

Extra credit

Write to other Florida newspapers to protest this plan

To find other Email addresses for other Florida newspapers search



Pubdate: Thu, 2 Sep 1999
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 1999 The Miami Herald
Page: 1 – Front Page
Contact: heralded@herald.com
Address: One Herald Plaza, Miami FL 33132-1693
Fax: (305) 376-8950
Website: http://www.herald.com/
Forum: http://krwebx.infi.net/webxmulti/cgi-bin/WebX?mherald
Author: Steve Bousquet, Capital Bureau Chief

Bush vows new assault on drugs

Ambitious Florida goals revealed

TALLAHASSEE — Saying drugs ”poison our community,” Gov. Jeb Bush
promised Wednesday to spend a half-billion dollars next year with the
goal of reducing drug use by 50 percent over five years in Florida —
an ambitious goal in a place known worldwide as a magnet for illegal

Speaking to a statewide conference of alcohol and drug abuse experts
in Orlando, Bush said the state will embark on a two-part strategy of
punishment and treatment, while streamlining the state’s cannibalized
and disconnected anti-drug efforts.

The crusade will include a massive increase in drug-treatment beds,
more specialized drug courts, more prosecutors, better security at
airports and seaports and a renewed emphasis on the need for parents
to talk to their kids about the dangers of drugs. The Bush plan would
attack drug use in all its guises — from pot plants growing in the
Keys to cocaine being smuggled through Miami International Airport
cargo holds to suburban teens snorting it.

”When people sell drugs and poison our community, they should be
punished, but we also need to expand treatment,” Bush said before his
speech to the Florida Alcohol & Drug Abuse Association. ”We’ve kind
of gone back and forth on one side or the other, but it’s clear we
need to do both.”

Jim McDonough, Bush’s drug policy coordinator, who worked in the White
House drug control office before joining the state administration,
said he would also push for more U.S. Customs agents in South Florida.

”We have to bring down the demand and bring down the supply,” he

McDonough cited recent revelations of rampant drug trafficking at
Miami International Airport as the latest example of the ”cavalier,
casual” attitude toward illegal drugs in Florida.

”It’s atrocious. It’s a wink and a nod, and here come the drugs,”
McDonough said. ”That’s the kind of stuff that kills people.”

Florida’s rate of drug use — about 8 percent of the population — is
much higher than the national average of 6.2 percent, McDonough said.
Nearly two-thirds of all cocaine seized in the U.S. last year came to
Florida, a year in which the state also experienced a 51 percent
increase in heroin-related deaths.

He called it a troubling result of the state’s mobile, transient
population and laid-back atmosphere.

Bush will formally unveil his anti-drug strategy on Sept. 10. An
estimated $360 million in the first year of the program will come from
the state, with the rest coming from the federal government — though
none of it is new money.

The state is coordinating anti-drug programs now scattered through
various state agencies — like health and corrections departments and
the Department of Law Enforcement. But even that step is a novel
approach, officials say.

About 60 percent of the money would be spent on education and
prevention, said Tim Bottcher, spokesman for the six-person drug
policy office, a branch of the governor’s office. The rest, he said,
will go to law enforcement.

Expert approves

A Miami-Dade drug treatment expert welcomes Bush’s promise to add more
than 9,000 new drug-treatment beds.

”There is a tremendous shortage of beds,” said Dr. Moraima Trujillo,
chief of general psychiatry at Veterans Administrators Hospital, who
specializes in substance abuse and serves as the medical director at
several Miami-Dade rehab and detox centers. ”Outpatient treatment is
not the answer. Patients need to be removed from their environment in
order to truly be helped. It’s a major problem. At the centers where I
work, patients are constantly being pushed out the door. There are
never enough beds to keep them.”

”If the governor is able to pull this off, I think it would be a
tremendous help to the community,” Trujillo said. ”If you eliminate
the bottom of the pyramid, which are the users, you will be
eliminating the market for the pushers. And it’s the community at
large that’s suffering. They are the ones being hit by drunk or
drugged drivers.”

Controversial point

One aspect of Bush’s anti-drug program is sure to be controversial
among civil libertarians and some legal experts: The governor is
proposing to take away the right of defendants in drug cases to depose
police officers before trial. Bush said that would stop police from
spending ”All their time in depositions when they’re trying to
apprehend the major drug dealers.”

Miami defense lawyer Chris Mancini said eliminating pretrial
depositions is ”a terrible idea,” because the investigative legwork
turns up examples of sloppy police work that save prosecutors from
taking weak cases to trial.

”Anybody who’s been in the system for a long time, other than a
politician like Jeb Bush, understands depositions actually work to
everyone’s benefit,” Mancini said. ”I don’t know who they’re
pandering to.”

Bush also proposes tax breaks for companies that submit their
employees to random drug testing.

In renewing the war on drugs, Bush also is confronting the post-baby
boom culture that generally takes a so-what attitude toward alcohol
and marijuana.

Questionable goals

Dr. Andres Fernandez, medical director at Center Intake Unit, a Miami
drug rehab center, said Bush’s goals were admirable — but

”I think that if the government increased the number of beds and at
the same time increased the amount of drug education given to young
people, and if we controled the drugs coming into Florida, the
governor could do it in five years. But that’s a whole lot of ifs,”
Fernandez said.

Even some drug experts who heard Bush’s talk were skeptical of his
lofty goals.

Asia Eichmiller, a drug counselor at Brevard Correctional Institution,
said reducing drug use by 50 percent is unrealistic. ”It’s very
entrenched in our culture,” Eichmiller said.

But Kerry Wilensky, a drug treatment expert in Clermont, applauded the
shift in focus away from purely punishment to prevention.

”Traditionally, we’ve had too much emphasis on interdiction instead
of prevention,” Wilensky said. ”As long as there is no demand, there
is no supply.”

Police applaud

Some local law enforcement experts applauded Bush’s commitment to
fighting drug abuse.

Danny Wright of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, who serves as chief of
the Pompano Beach police, called Bush’s target of a 50 percent
reduction in drug use ”a reachable goal.” He cited two key factors:
constant drug-abuse awareness efforts in public schools and pressing
apartment owners to write leases threatening immediate eviction for
drug-dealing tenants.

”At one time, we were only doing enforcement. The education and
prevention mechanisms were missing. But it’s changing,” said Wright,
who is organizing a drug summit Oct. 16 at Ely High School in Pompano


Governor Bush’s “ambitious” plan to cut drug use by 50 percent over
five years could be laughed off if it didn’t present such a terrible
threat to the people of Florida. It’s funny because every couple years
federal legislators have mandated similar reductions with great
fanfare, fanfare that is nowhere to be found when the plans fail
miserably to meet stated goals. But, the latest plan is also deadly
serious. Like the idea to test plant-killing fungus within the
Sunshine State, the new plan shows Florida officials are so eager to
display their intolerance of drugs they are willing to risk the safety
of residents in the process.

This time anti-drug bureaucrats want the people of Florida to give up
their right to depose police officers before trial should they be
accused of a drug crime. Defense lawyers have said this will mean more
weak cases will go to trial, instead of being thrown out before trial.
People who stay away from illegal drugs probably feel they have
nothing to fear from this provision. However, with more money being
spread around the state for more drug law enforcement, every citizen
has a great deal to fear. State anti-drug officials will want to see
results from increased law enforcement budgets, which means more
arrests. So when the police are having a slow day, they are more
likely to make questionable arrests. Floridians caught in this trap
will no longer have the protection provided by pre-trial depositions.
But again, the courts and the cops look like they’re working hard,
because more cases will be flowing through the system.

But even when that happens, illegal drugs will also continue to flow
through the state. And after a while, some other politician will
suggest it’s time to get really tough before he snatches another right
from the people.

Stephen Young

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