Comment of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee, On President Obama’s 2014 National Drug Control Strategy

I welcome the President’s 2014 National Drug Control Strategy released today.  By treating addiction as an illness and a public health crisis, the strategy reflects a responsible approach to ending our Nation’s unrelenting addiction to powerful controlled substances.  Only through an increased commitment to prevention, early intervention, treatment, smart criminal justice policies, and reentry services, will we finally reduce demand for drugs.  I am also pleased that the Administration notes the importance of the Second Chance Act and recognizes the unique challenges faced by recovering addicts. 

Congress must also do its part, and swiftly reauthorize the Second Chance Act, which I introduced for reauthorization last fall.  This grant program supports initiatives that reduce recidivism, like the Vermont Court Diversion Program, which allows offenders charged with minor crimes to keep their records clean if they successfully complete a program designed for them by community review boards.  The Second Chance Act also supports reentry programs to ensure former offenders have the resources to become contributing members of their communities.  These efforts prevent crime, reduce prison costs, improve public safety, and save taxpayer dollars.  It is also the right thing to do.

We in Vermont, like in much of the country, have been grappling with the corrosive effects of opioid addiction for over a decade.  We know that only this type of balanced approach – when embraced by the communities themselves – can help us to get ahead of addiction, and to finally end the misery it inflicts on individuals, families, and our communities.

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