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Panel Blasts BJA for Ending Drug Treatment Projects

Panel Blasts BJA For Ending Drug Treatment Projects

A House committee has issued a report alleging that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which manages the $492-million drug enforcement grants program, discontinued funding of drug treatment in prisons and jails, and then tried to mislead the committee into thinking that those funds had actually been increased.

"For [the Department of] Justice to deny drug rehabilitation to incarcerated convicts means it ignores one of the fundamental principles of incarceration, to rid our prisoners of addiction so they can function in society," said Rep. John Conyers, Jr., chairman of the House Government Operations Committee, which released the report. "Our prisons are becoming addict factories, moving them in and moving them out, failing to clean them up when we finally have them off the streets."

At the hearings a subpanel of the committee chaired by Rep. Bob Wise (D-W.Va.) probed reports that BJA was eliminating all drug treatment programs from the "discretionary' portion of the drug grants program. In response to a request from the subcommittee, BJA submitted a comparison of Fiscal Year 1989 drug treatment grants with those for FY 1990. But most of the funding in M 1990 was for drug testing of arrestees, denial of federal benefits to drug offenders, and other projects that have little or nothing to do with drug treatment, the committee said in its report.

'The response from Justice has been to play games with the numbers and look the other way, Congressman Wise said.

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