PNS Daily Newscast - July 18, 2019 

The U.S. House voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt for defying congressional subpoenas related to the U.S. census.

Daily Newscasts

Advocates Oppose "Get Tough" Approach to Opioid Epidemic

Harm-reduction strategies such as safe injection spaces can reduce overdose deaths. (PhotoLizM/Pixabay)
Harm-reduction strategies such as safe injection spaces can reduce overdose deaths. (PhotoLizM/Pixabay)
March 20, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – President Donald Trump is calling for tough law-enforcement measures to fight the opioid epidemic – measures drug policy reform advocates say simply don't work.

Speaking at Manchester Community College in New Hampshire on Monday, Trump called for the death penalty for major traffickers and increasing mandatory minimum sentences as key to stopping the growing tide of opioid-overdose deaths.

But, according to Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, decades of experience with "get tough on drugs" policies show they have little to no beneficial effect.

"You look at communities where law enforcement are really heavily engaged in the war on drugs and you don't see an end to drug selling, you don't see an end to drug use, you actually see higher concentrations of both of those activities in the same communities," he explains.

The president also has called for $3 billion this year and $10 billion next year to expand access to prevention, treatment and recovery support programs.

Smith contends that while treatment is effective at reducing drug use and overdose deaths, those efforts could be overshadowed by the emphasis on treating addiction as a criminal problem.

"People who are facing an overdose situation are less likely to call for help if the police arrive," he warns. "They're less likely to get health care or treatment if they think law enforcement will intervene."

The president also re-emphasized his call for a wall on the country's border with Mexico as a way to stop drugs from entering the country.

The Drug Policy Alliance recently issued a report outlining more than twenty policy proposals Smith says would increase access to treatment, expand harm-reduction services and reduce the role of criminalization and incarceration.

"The recommendations range from expanding access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment to making syringe exchange more available to creating safe consumption spaces," adds Smith.

He points out that harsh drug laws have proved ineffective at reducing drug use while having devastating effects on people of color and marginalized communities.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NH