Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Thursday, January 9, 2003.

Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699.
Editor's note: This news release describes a proposal Attorney General Miller made to the Iowa Legislature for 2003. It was not enacted in 2003, but Attorney General Miller continues to work for future approval of the proposal.

Miller: Fund Drug Treatment to Cut Crime

DES MOINES.    Attorney General Tom Miller today called on the Legislature to increase funding for drug treatment. "It's the most important thing we can do now to fight crime," he said. He asked the Legislature to pay for the programs with a 25-cent increase in the cigarette tax, which hasn't been raised for over a decade.

Miller's proposal (Click here for a copy of Attorney General Miller's Proposal) calls for $29 million of new spending on drug treatment and prevention. He also called for $15 million in increased spending for anti-tobacco programs.

Miller said the overwhelming linkage between drugs and crime is what makes the program so important. "The number one thing we can do to fight crime is fight drugs, and the number one thing we can do to fight drugs is to do a better job with drug treatment. This is a crucial public safety measure," he said.

"Drug treatment reduces crime more than any other single thing we can do," he said. "It's proven to succeed and pay off." Miller cited a federal study showing that various criminal activity declined sharply among those who completed treatment: selling drugs dropped 78%, shoplifting declined almost 82%, arrest for drug possession dropped 51%, and arrests for any crime dropped 64%. Research by the University of Iowa shows that clients reporting "no arrests" increased by 51%, and clients responding to "1-3 arrests" decreased by 51 %.

"We need a three-prong approach to deal with drugs and crime: prosecution, prevention, and treatment," Miller said. "Overall, Iowa is doing a good job with prosecution and a pretty good job with prevention, but we must do much more work on treatment." He said that most law enforcement officers and prosecutors agree that prosecution alone will not solve the drug problem.

Miller conducted news conferences Thursday in Des Moines, the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids, Mason City, and Sioux City. He was joined by law enforcement and drug treatment officials.

"Law enforcement and prosecutors in Iowa are doing a fine job dealing with an almost intractable problem," he said. "Drug shipments crossing our Interstate highways are being intercepted. Meth labs are being discovered. Drug dealers and users are being arrested and prosecuted." He noted that there has been a 34.8% increase in the number of drug charges adjudicated by the Iowa District Court from 1999 to 2001. Drug cases constitute about 20% of the court docket in Iowa.

"Tough prosecution is very important," Miller said, "but it will only work when it's used in conjunction with effective drug and alcohol treatment. Increasing the money available for substance abuse treatment will reduce crime and make Iowans safer."

About 80% of persons in prison have been identified as having a substance abuse problem. In Des Moines, 57% of persons arrested tested positive for drugs, and 35% were at risk for alcohol dependence. The Iowa Department of Corrections reports that 75-80% of all correctional clients admit to a history of substance abuse. A federal study shows that one-third of state prison inmates reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of their offense.

"The top goal of the proposal is public safety, but it also will help Iowa's economy and workforce," Miller said. "All Iowans benefit from having more productive employees in our workforce, and we must be able to offer a positive alternative to drugs including a decent job."

Miller said that the economic benefits of substance abuse are much greater than its costs. "Drug treatment saves money," he said. Studies show that a dollar spent on drug treatment pays a $4-7 dollar return, mostly in health care savings and increased productivity.

Miller said it was important not to stigmatize addiction. "It is important to understand substance abuse addiction as a disease instead of a result of personal weakness and moral failing," he said. "Addiction is an ongoing health problem that is not easy to cure." He said 6.7 million Americans are affected by drug addiction and 13.8 million by alcoholism -- about equivalent to the the number of Americans affected by heart disease (21 million).

The Attorney General proposes that resources for substance abuse treatment and related programs should be increased by about $44 million. The funds would be used to get more people into treatment, and let them stay in treatment long enough to get the maximum benefit.

Details of the Increased Drug Treatment Program:

Estimated Funding Outline:

Community Based Treatment - $10 million

Correction Treatment - $5 million

Other Programs - $12 million, including:

Drug Courts, $3 million

Diversion Programs, $1 million

Jail Programs, $4 million

Knoxville Program, $4 million

Prevention Grants, $2 million

Increased tobacco control funding to CDC minimum - $15 million

Total:   $44 million

A Community-based Treatment. (Estimated $10 million increase)

The State Capacities Work Group in 2001 was given the task of determining capacity and estimating costs for increased capacity. The most effective scenario recommended by the group called for an increase in both the number of beds and the length of stay. The increased cost for that maximum scenario was $13.9 million. We believe that the current system could not absorb that size of increase in a single year because of workforce issues and so we recommend $10 million in the first year, $10 million in the second, and $15 million by the third.

B Prison Treatment. (Estimated $5 million increase)

The current estimated expenditure for licensed substance abuse treatment in Iowa prisons is $4.3 million. This provides "residential" level of care treatment for about 1,100 offenders and "outpatient" level of care for about 575 offenders. A $9 million annual budget targeted for licensed substance abuse treatment could adequately address the need for treatment within the prisons. An additional $300,000 could be used to reinstate a centralized substance abuse treatment needs assessment process at the Oakdale reception center.

C Adult and Juvenile Drug Courts. (Estimated $3 million)

Drug Courts for adults, juvenile or both exist in Des Moines, Sioux City, Mason City, Marshalltown, and the in the Fourth Judicial District. These programs are funded primarily through federal grants and they are proving their effectiveness. The state should ensure their continuation and expansion.

Drug Courts are one of the most effective things we can do in part because of the intersection that is created between the criminal justice system and the treatment system. The Court serves as a particularly effective incentive for requiring treatment. Defendants hear the message that failure to comply will result in sanctions. Because of this feature, judicial cooperation is crucial to success.

D Diversion to Treatment Pilot Projects. (Estimated $1 million)

The idea of this program is to use a screening tool to identify treatment-ready offenders immediately after arrest so that diversion to treatment occurs prior to the expenditure of legal and correctional resources. Eligible offenders accused of non-violent drug and property crimes would plead guilty enabling them to go the front of the line for full evaluation, treatment, and CBC supervision.

There are two keys to success: first, the use of a treatment-eligibility screening tool by pre-trial release interviewers; and second, priorities set by the prosecutors, public defenders, judges, DCS, and treatment programs to "fast track" these cases.

E Jail-based Treatment Programs. (Estimated $4 million)

The programs that provide treatment within the confined are effective and reliable in part because of the benefits of treating a confined population. This program is currently being implemented in Polk County and has potential for other of the states larger counties. The Polk County program budget is $400,000 and serves 30-40 men and 10 women. Placing such a program in ten of the larger counties of the state would cost $4 million.

F Knoxville Secure Drug Treatment Program for Probationers. (Estimated $4 million)

This funding would establish a secure drug treatment program at Knoxville for

probationers who also have a substance abuse problem. The program would provide specialized treatment in a secure setting without increasing demands on the prison system.

G Statewide Comprehensive Prevention Programming Grants. (Estimated $2 million increase)

Additional funding for the Iowa Department of Public Health's Statewide Comprehensive Programming Grant Program will provide an important complement to the increased emphasis on treatment. Under this program 23 grantees provide drug prevention services to all 99 counties of the state on a per capita basis. The programs engage in local alcohol and drug prevention activities such as working to reduce college binge drinking habits, or the strengthening families to discourage the use of alcohol and drugs. Current funding for the program is $2.8 million.

The Proposal to Increase Funding for Tobacco Control -- $15 million increase:

In addition to dedicating most of the 25-cent cigarette tax increase to substance abuse treatment, Miller said a portion of the proceeds - about $15 million - should be used to strengthen Iowa's efforts to reduce tobacco use, addiction and disease.

Even though the settlement with the tobacco industry resulted in payments of hundreds of millions of dollars to Iowa, current funding for the program is only $5 million (down from $9.3 million last year.) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has set a targeted range for what each state should spend for an effective and comprehensive program -- and Iowa's recommended spending level is a minimum of $19.3 to $48.7 million.

An additional $15 million would bring Iowa to roughly to the CDC recommendation. "This is an especially appropriate use of money from the state tobacco tax," Miller said. "As a state, we should commit ourselves to spending the money necessary to prevent the loss of more than 5,000 Iowa lives per year from tobacco," he said.

"Our most effective tool to fight the addictive effects of nicotine in tobacco is a comprehensive program with counter-marketing, community programs, youth programs, enforcement and cessation. In proper combination, these programs save lives. We should fund the program at least to the minimum level recommended by the CDC," Miller said.

Funding the Program by Raising the Tobacco Excise Tax:

Miller said a 25-cent tobacco tax increase would raise approximately $50 million in new state revenue. He noted that others are proposing higher increases, and that he supports such increases because it is well-documented that lives are saved because people reduce smoking or quit when prices increase.

Economists estimate that a 10% increase in the price of cigarettes would reduce teenage smoking by 7% and overall consumption by 4-6%. Such a decline would help reduce the loss of life each year from tobacco. Smoking related disease claims an estimated 440,000 American lives each year including more than 5,000 Iowans.

The current Iowa cigarette tax is 36 cents. It has not increased since 1991 when it was increased 5 cents. Sixteen states raised cigarette taxes in 2002. Iowa is currently 29th in the nation regarding cigarette tax level. A number of neighboring states raised their tobacco tax in 2002. Illinois raised its tax 40 cents to 98 cents per pack. Nebraska raised its tax 30 cents to 64 cents per pack and Kansas raised its 55 cents to 70 cents per pack. Three other neighboring states considered such increases: Minnesota (48 cents currently), Wisconsin (77 cents currently) and Missouri (17 cents currently).

Each pack of cigarettes sold in this county costs the economy $7.18 in health care and related expenditures. Smoking costs the U.S. approximately $150 billion each year in health-care costs and lost productivity. In Iowa the estimated cost is $1,618,000,000.

"Cigarettes and tobacco impose a huge drain on our nation's health and economy," Miller said. "It is only fitting that tobacco should pay more of the costs for solving our most important problems."

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