ACCESSION NUMBER:363213 FILE ID:LEF323 DATE:10/05/94 TITLE:NEW CRIME LAW STRENGTHENS ANTIDRUG EFFORTS, POLICY HEAD SAYS (10/05/94) TEXT:*94100523.LEF *LEF323 10/05/94 NEW CRIME LAW STRENGTHENS ANTIDRUG EFFORTS, POLICY HEAD SAYS TR94100523 (Republicans assail Clinton's approach) +rd (640) By Ralph Dannheisser USIA Staff Writer WASHINGTON -- The recently passed crime bill gives the Clinton administration valuable new tools in the fight on drugs, the director of the president's Office of National Drug Control Policy has told a Senate committee. Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee Oct. 5, Director Lee Brown lauded Congress' action in authorizing funds for "police, punishment and prevention," even though he criticized the lawmakers for granting much less than the administration requested for treatment programs for hardcore users. Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del.) shared Brown's upbeat assessment, terming the crime law a "major step in the right direction" in combating the "drug epidemic that has become such a pervasive part of life in America." But the drug policy chief's comments were greeted skeptically by members of the committee's Republican minority, who accused the administration of abandoning antidrug efforts used to great result by the former Reagan and Bush administrations. Brown, a former police commissioner in New York, Houston and Atlanta, told the panel that he and the administration see the prevalence of drugs as an integral part of a much broader problem in society. "While not excusing any criminal behavior, the administration believes an effective drug and crime strategy must be cognizant of the poverty, hopelessness and lack of opportunity in many of our communities. Solving the drug problem therefore involves a willingness to recognize the importance of good schools, good jobs, accessible health care, decent housing and safe communities," he said. Addressing the administration's emphasis on treatment for hardcore drug 1sers -- many of them criminals -- Brown observed that its strategy called for treatment of 140,000 addicts in the 1995 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. But he noted that Congress chose not to provide the $355 million requested for that program, and approved only $57 million in additional funds for locally administered substance abuse prevention and treatment programs -- enough to treat only about 6,500 heavy users. "While the administration welcomes any increase in the treatment budget during a time of such fiscal restraint, it is extremely difficult to carry out our strategy without obtaining a substantial amount of the funds requested for drug treatment," Brown said. Still, he said, the new law "includes the most serious commitment to hard-core drug treatment ever enacted by the federal government." He specifically cited a $1,000 million, six-year commitment to "drug court" programs designed to support intensive supervision of drug dependent defendants and divert non-violent offenders into drug treatment. Brown emphasized that "addressing chronic hardcore drug use and providing increased access to treatment" remain the administration's top priorities in the field. But he conceded that programs to implement these goals must be redesigned into ones that Congress will agree to fund in "an ever tightening fiscal climate." Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the panel's senior Republican, expressed misgivings as to whether "focusing on hard-core addicts in prison is the best use of limited resources." And, he said, "treating convicts before users in the general population may send the wrong signal about our priorities, especially when these convicts are rewarded with early release." More broadly, Hatch complained that "we have not had strong leadership in this fight from President Clinton." While casual drug use dropped by more than half between 1977 and 1982, he said, "under President Clinton's leadership, we are losing ground," with use of marijuana, LSD and other drugs once again rising. He charged that Clinton has adopted a policy that "surrenders much of our previous international intelligence efforts to drug cartels, retreats on tough law enforcement, cuts federal law enforcement personnel to an unprecedented degree, and abandons personal accountability by proposing the early release of drug offenders." NNNN .