Nov 2, 2011

Drug War Politics: Congress on Speed: Partisan Conflict Led to Many Problems in 1986 Drug Law

OpEd by Eric E. Sterling, President, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation

Huffinhgton Post: "Last week, the votes of 43 Republican senators blocked the proposal of Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) to create a National Criminal Justice Commission to study and recommend improvements to the criminal justice system. But in the 111th Congress, the proposal passed the House on a voice vote in 2010. This proposal, endorsed by the National Sheriffs Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the ACLU, had bi-partisan support last year. This year, however, partisan conflict has blocked the measure.

Other times, partisanship has led Congress to move too fast, and that produced trouble. Twenty-five years ago last Thursday (Oct. 27), President Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, after less than ninety days of jockeying between the Democratic House and Republican Senate. The political wrangling was triggered by the cocaine death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias on June 19, 1986 as he celebrated signing with the Boston Celtics. In the media blitz following his tragedy, House Speaker "Tip" O'Neill from Boston spotted political opportunity for Democrats to claim anti-drug leadership in time for the election. Eager to complete a package before the August campaigns, the bills were very hastily written." read more 

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