Bill Richardson on Drugs
Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee
BIDEN: Yes. I would ban--in all public [places], nationally.
DODD: 3,000 kids start smoking every day in this country.
RICHARDSON: I did it in New Mexico as a national law.
KUCINICH: You bet I’ll go for a national law.
Q: So Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel and Kucinich in favor of a national law.
EDWARDS: Wait, wait, wait, and Edwards.
BIDEN: Absolutely no, I would not. The cost of alcoholism in America, the cost of accidents that flow from drunkenness, are astronomical.
DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming..
RICHARDSON: No, I wouldn’t lower it. In fact, at this moment, my wife is hosting in New Mexico with the surgeon general a forum on underage drinking. I think what you need, though, is a dual approach. Yes, we need to have strong law enforcement against DWI, against so many other law- related issues, but you also have to have substance abuse treatment.
GRAVEL: I think we should lower it. Anybody that can go fight and die for this country should be able to drink.
We now have one of the best programs in the country. We started with stiffer laws for repeat offenders--an additional four years added to a drunk driver’s sentence for each prior conviction. Before, jail time was not mandatory for DWI offenders who violated the terms of their probation; it is now. We also cracked down on repeat offenders in other ways, lowering the DWI blood alcohol limit from .8 to .6 and making participation in a treatment program mandatory. We set up a hotline to report suspicious driving and created a radio/TV advertising campaign that featured me hammering home the anti-DWI point in six words: “You drink, you drive, you lose.” No exceptions.
Effective, immediate and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment is one of the most effective tools to cut crime.
I am proposing a mandatory New Mexico Drug Court for first-time, non-violent offenders who are arrested for drug or alcohol related crimes.
Many national studies have shown the same thing: drug courts work. Graduates have a far less chance of re-arrest than if they were sentenced and then released, or just put on probation. Drug courts are the first step towards reducing addiction rates and criminal activity. But they must be accompanied by expansion of our treatment facilities, throughout NM. In the long term, this policy will lead to savings in prosecution and jail costs.
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