CATHERINE CRIER LOOKS AT SOME ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO SOLVING THE
NATION'S DRUG CRISIS, ON "AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS: SEARCHING FOR SOLUTIONS,"
AN ABC NEWS SPECIAL, THURSDAY, APRIL 6 (10-11 PM, ET)
As billions of our tax dollars are being spent on the country's war on drugs -- policing our borders, arresting pushers, and imprisoning users -- some Americans say it's time for a radical new approach.
-- Over 300,000 Americans are behind bars for drug violations.
-- Total estimated cost to society for illegal drug use each year is almost $67 billion.
-- 35 million Americans -- 15 percent of the population -- smoke marijuana.
-- Only about 20 percent of America's estimated 3 million hard-core addicts are able to get treatment.
Catherine Crier examines some controversial approaches to the drug problem:
the decriminalization or legalization of some drugs, and "harm reduction"
-- the treatment of addicts with drugs and therapy rather than incarceration.
The hour takes Crier to cities around the country, and to Europe, where tactics that, to some, appear risky and dangerous are considered successful approaches by others. In the Netherlands, it's the decriminalization of marijuana. In Great Britain, it's heroin maintenance.
Should and could these strategies be used successfully here? Experts from various fields, including the legal, criminal justice, and medical communities, offer their thoughts.
Among those interviewed in the United States are Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, California Superior Court Judge James Gray of Orange County, New Haven Police Chief Nick Pastore, William Bennett, the nation's Drug Czar during the Bush Administration, Dr. Mitchell Rosenthal, Director of Phoenix House in New York, and numerous others.
... ABC News "Nightline," following the local news on this date, will continue the exploration of the subject.
[ABC News "Day One" will not be seen on this night.]
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