[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[July 11, 1998]
[Pages 1220-1221]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1220]]

The President's Radio Address
July 11, 1998

    Good morning. This week General Barry McCaffrey, Attorney General 
Reno, and I were in Atlanta to launch an unprecedented antidrug campaign 
to ensure that when young people watch television, listen to the radio, 
read the newspaper, or surf the Web, they will get the powerful message 
that drugs are wrong, illegal, and can kill. They're both with me here 
today. This morning I'd like to talk to you about how we are working to 
sever the dangerous link between illegal drugs and violent crime.
    There is no greater threat to our families and communities than the 
abuse of illegal drugs. For the last 5\1/2\ years, we've worked hard to 
fight drugs on every front: on our streets, in our schools, at our 
borders, in our homes. We've made real progress. Today there are 50 
percent fewer Americans using drugs than just 15 years ago.
    This morning the Justice Department will release a study that 
highlights several areas where we have more work to do. On the positive 
side, it shows that crack cocaine, which once ravaged whole 
neighborhoods, is now on the decline. In Manhattan, for example, the 
number of young criminals testing positive for crack cocaine dropped 
from 77 percent in 1988 to just 21 percent last year.
    However, abuse of methamphetamine--after falling for 2 years--is now 
rising in the West and Southwest. Clearly, we have more to do. In six 
cities where methamphetamine is prevalent, we will help local 
governments attack this outbreak with the same community policing 
strategies that are allowing us to get crack cocaine off the streets.
    The Justice Department study also shows that we must do more to make 
criminals make a clean break from illegal drugs. The study reports that 
between one-half and three-quarters of the people charged with crimes 
have drugs in their system at the time of their arrest. We already know 
that many of these offenders will commit more crimes if they are 
released with their drug habits intact. Now, if we want to continue to 
make our communities safer, we simply must get more crime-committing 
addicts to kick the habit.
    In 1989 Attorney General Reno helped to pioneer one of the most 
successful ways of getting criminals to give up drugs. Her innovation, 
known as a drug court, gives nonviolent offenders a simple deal: If you 
submit to regular drug testing, enroll in court-supervised drug 
treatment, and keep yourself clean, you can stay out of jail; but if you 
fail tests or fail to show up, you'll be punished to the full extent of 
the law.

    In 1994, through our historic crime bill, we helped to expand drug 
courts from a mere handful back then to more than 400 today. The results 
have been remarkable. In some cities, drug court participants have 
recidivism, or repeater rates, as low as 4 percent. So today we'll take 
another step to break the cycle of drugs and crime by awarding grants to 
build and enhance drug courts in more than 150 communities across our 
Nation. To stop the revolving door of crime and narcotics, we must make 
offenders stop abusing drugs.

    Now Congress must get involved. I've asked Congress to fund an $85 
million testing and treatment initiative like the ones passed just this 
year in Connecticut and Maryland, initiatives that will help to support 
even more drug courts, as well as mandatory drug treatment and testing 
programs for probationers, prisoners, and parolees. So far, Congress has 
taken no action on this request, despite the indisputable evidence that 
mandatory drug testing and treatment works for probationers, prisoners, 
and parolees, and that drug courts clearly work.

    I know all Members of Congress, regardless of party, want drug use 
and crime in America to keep going down. On Thursday Speaker Gingrich 
stood with us in Atlanta and pledged to attack the Nation's drug problem 
in a nonpartisan manner. The best way to do that is for Congress to work 
with me in the remaining days of this legislative session to create even 
more drug courts and to expand mandatory testing and treatment of those 
who commit crimes.

    By putting progress ahead of partisanship, we can enhance 
responsibility, fight drugs, cut crime, and strengthen our Nation for 
the 21st century.

[[Page 1221]]

    Thank you for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from the Oval Office at the 
White House.