Friday, January 30, 2004


I haven't been able to find any other coverage of this item on the news wires so I'm posting the whole section from this week's Crime & Justice News e-bulletin that arrived in the in-box thanks to my buddy JackL. It appears the program we were just speaking of earlier this week, may only be in suspended animation and not necessarily dead.

ADAM Drug Testing Revival Proposed By Bush

The White House will ask Congress for $6.5 million to continue a revamped program of testing arrestees around the country for substance abuse. The Justice Department said today that the proposal would be included in the fiscal year 2005 budget request for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which oversees research on crime fighting. President Bush will send the overall budget to Congress next week.

Two weeks ago, NIJ halted work on the program, called Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring, or ADAM, citing a reduced NIJ budget approved by Congress. Unless localities find funds to continue testing arrestees, the data gathering will be interrupted pending congressional action on funding.

Law enforcement experts and criminologists have praised ADAM for providing up-to-date information on drug abuse trends in localities.

NIJ said it is working with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the White House "drug czar") to replace ADAM with a data collection system that will provide national estimates of drug use by arrestees. Critics have expressed doubts that such an arrangement would provide meaningful data because drug abuse trends tend to vary significantly by locality.

The Justice Department said the new program would involve about 25 "core sites" that would "collect data to both inform local law enforcement practices" and to "contribute to the national estimate of arrestee drug use." An additional 50 or more sites would be added later.

A Justice Department spokesperson said that the $6.5 million request, if approved by Congress, might provide for testing at less frequent intervals than the quarterly testing done now. NIJ had killed the program because it was costing more than $8 million a year, and Congress cut the agency's total research budget to $6 million.

Bruce Johnson of N.D.R.I., which oversees ADAM testing in New York City, said he hoped Congress would provide funds to continue the program, but the "political realities don't look promising." Johnson said that even if money were restored, losing 2004 data and the structure to collect it will be a "disaster." He noted that it took about two years in the late 1990s to overhaul the former Drug Use Forecasting program, which started in the late 1980s, into what became the ADAM program that was killed this month by NIJ.

ADAM has involved urine testing of all arrestees for serious crimes in 35 places. Contrary to some reports, it is not restricted to jail inmates.

Ask your Congress creature to vote no on refunding this project. As the article notes, the lapse in data collection will render the program useless and the money would end being spent to get back to square one. Besides why does the government need to spend 6.5 million to figure out that inmates are using drugs. We could tell them that for free and charting numbers merely create more reports, not solutions.

They would do better to design an entirely new program with that kind of money that offers treatment options to arrestees with drug addictions. They could probably extrapolate some useful statistics from the numbers of addicts that avail themselves of the service and actually do something constructive rather than punitive to alleviate the problem.

I also think that if the prohibitionists feel they need this data so badly, the funding should have been coming out of the DEA's budget and not the Justice Department.


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