US Marijuana Party

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Drug agent wants offenders to pay for law enforcement

By Clyde L. Stancil
The Decatur Daily, AL

Drug agent Rector Johnson wonders who will clean up the methamphetamine epidemic.

As director of the Marion County Drug Task Force, Johnson has seen enough meth labs to know the problems do not go away when operators are arrested.

"Every pound of meth creates 6 pounds of hazardous waste," Johnson said. "Who's going to clean it up? How long can the counties afford to clean it up without help to pay for it? How long will the Environmental Protection Agency tolerate you not cleaning it up properly?"

Johnson said he has discovered a partial solution gleaned from statistics produced by the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. Data showed him a four-year average of 89,000 arrests each year for drug and drug-related offenses including possession, sales and drug-related burglaries and thefts.

If each of those arrests results in a conviction and the Legislature attaches a $50 fine, Johnson said, that would generate $4.45 million. Divide that amount among the state's 22 drug task forces, and each would receive $202,272 to help with the fight against drugs.

Local agencies could use the money to hire more officers and buy equipment. Some of the money would be set aside for court-approved drug treatment for poor offenders.

"It makes the violators pay without putting a burden on taxpayers," Johnson said.

The Legislative Reference Service is preparing Rector's proposal for Rep. Mike Milligan, D-Hamilton, to present to the Legislature. It is an amendment to the Drug Demand Reduction Assessment Act.


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