Nathan Deal: Drug addiction ‘draining our treasury’

Georgia Inauguration

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, left embraces his son, Hall County Superior Judge Jason Deal, after being sworn in by his son as the 82nd Governor in the House chamber. AP/John Bazemore

In his inaugural address to a small, snow-winnowed crowd of state lawmakers, supporters and state officials, Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday made crime and its cost his very first topic.

Deal made no specific proposals, but the comments below appear to echo last week’s musings by House Speaker David Ralston, who wondered if Georgia was locking up too many people, at too high a cost – particularly in the case of drug addicts.

When a House speaker and a new governor are hitting the same notes, something’s up.

From Deal’s prepared text:

“Presently, one out of every 13 Georgia residents is under some form of correctional control. It cost about $3 million per day to operate our Department of Corrections. And yet, every day criminals continue to inflict violence on our citizens and an alarming number of perpetrators are juveniles.

“College students should be concerned about their grades not whether they are going to be mugged on their way home from class. Visitors to our cities should be treated as welcomed guests and protected. Families should not live in fear of gang violence and drive-by shootings. But most of all, our dedicated law enforcement officers must not be targets for criminals. Anyone who harms one of them harms us all, for they embody the Constitutional mandate that government provide us with protection and security.

“Breaking the culture of crime and violence is not a task for law enforcement officials alone. Parents must assume more responsibility for their children. Communities must marshal their collective wills; civic and religious organizations must use their influence to set the tone for expected behavior.

“For violent and repeat offenders, we will make you pay for your crimes. For other offenders who want to change their lives, we will provide the opportunity to do so with Day Reporting Centers, Drug, DUI and Mental Health Courts and expanded probation and treatment options. As a State, we cannot afford to have so many of our citizens waste their lives because of addictions. It is draining our State Treasury and depleting our workforce…..”

And let it be noted that Deal – unlike his predecessor – put a great deal of emphasis on transportation:

With an expansive land mass that is populated by one large metropolitan area, several medium-sized municipalities, and many smaller cities and rural counties, our transportation needs are very diverse. With our ports at Savannah and Brunswick, we are part of an expanding international trade community.

We will do our part to deepen the Savannah port in order to accommodate the larger vessels that will soon pass through the Panama Canal. But we must do more. Our rail capacity and cargo routes must be improved and expanded. We must not miss this opportunity to provide jobs for Georgians.

Highway congestion, especially in the Greater Atlanta area is a deterrent to job growth in the region. If we do not solve this problem soon, we will lose the businesses who want to expand or locate in our State. I am dedicated to working with all elements of government to improve our transportation system and I call on all Georgians to join us. We must put aside some of the regional differences of the past and work for the common good of our State.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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118 comments Add your comment

WE have lost our way

January 10th, 2011
3:42 pm

The Department of Corrections had alternative housing for Drug offenders in the 1980’s and 1990’s.However the majority of these centers were deleted by Sonny and the Republican legislators in the past eight years.They cut them to save state funds,but as you can see they want to add them back in. Looked good in the short term,but costly in the long term.

khc

January 10th, 2011
3:45 pm

Stephanie

January 10th, 2011
3:57 pm

Had a crazy idea this article was about curbing our spending habit, oh well. Good parenting and a few lessons from Sheriff Joe Arpaio would help curb crime stemming from drug habits. The question is how do you lessen demand for drugs? Without demand, there would be no supply….

Tired of BS

January 10th, 2011
4:00 pm

Drug users have terrorized our country for far too long. Frankly, maybe it’s time to realize that we can’t help them because they don’t want it. They come from a culture that supports and encourages young minority men to deal. We have got to make definitive choices about what we can do to protect the citizens from these people. Money and programs have not helped. It’s time to find another way.

td

January 10th, 2011
4:08 pm

At the turn of the 19th century, China solved its opium problem by putting all users and dealers to death immediately. It only took 10 years to solve their addition problem.

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:14 pm

the clear solution is to make drugs legal, but republicans have spent so much time demonizing drugs and drug users (sometimes literally, like the satanism panic of the 80’s) that they can’t change their minds now. let’s continue to waste billions of dollars a year incarcerating people who want to smoke a plant, while far more toxic drugs like alcohol or tobacco are sold and taxed

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:16 pm

of course, it’s always a lot easier to blame minorities for being poor than it is to look at the reasons why they are poor in the first place, or the very few mechanisms they have to lift themselves out of poverty

drugs are not the problem. our attitude towards drugs is the problem

BRW

January 10th, 2011
4:16 pm

That’s right td, let’s look back to the conservative 19th century Chinese for inspiration. I’m sure your interpretation of the Constitution will prove it’s OK to terminate people that don’t follow your ideals.

LizBeth

January 10th, 2011
4:17 pm

td—You are right; putting people to death will solve a country’s addition problem.

BRW

January 10th, 2011
4:20 pm

….just caught the “addition” part…..good catch :)

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James Stewart

January 10th, 2011
4:22 pm

Penfield Christian Home is the answer, not jail.

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:26 pm

“At the turn of the 19th century, China solved its opium problem by putting all users and dealers to death immediately. It only took 10 years to solve their addition problem.”

td, are you aware that the chinese ‘opium problem’ was created by the british, who forced the chinese to accept opium from british india in payment for chinese tea and silk? no, you probably are not aware of this fact – here is a link for you to educate yourself

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars

much like today, the drug ‘problem’ is created by the government. local police prefer to keep drugs illegal, so that they can requisition large budgets to hunt down drug pushers. members of government with ties to the prison industry prefer to keep drugs illegal, ensuring that they have a steady long-term supply of ‘customers’ who reside at government expense in private, for-profit prisons. the drug ‘problem’ can even be seen as a form of welfare – how much worse would unemployment be if the million americans incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses were back on the street?

if we were serious about combating drugs in american society, we would legalize. mexican drug cartels would find their business undercut, because drug prices are artificially inflated due to the risk of law enforcement. backyard meth cookers would vanish overnight if users could buy clean methamphetamine at walgreens. heroin overdoses would drop dramatically if addicts could get pure, uncut junk from a government-run store. and imagine the money saved by not having to house millions of harmless ‘criminals’! imagine the tax revenues – federal excise reciepts on alcohol produce over ten billion dollars a year!

yet we still insist on pursuing this hypocritical, moralistic fools’ crusade.

Let's Keep It Real Now!

January 10th, 2011
4:26 pm

If Obama Supporters could behave themselves, be considerate of others and obey the same laws as the rest of us (for a change), the State would not have to spend so much money on correctional facilities.

Lifetime Georgian

January 10th, 2011
4:27 pm

td = too dumb

Aquagirl

January 10th, 2011
4:28 pm

Nate, honey, the War on Drugs is what’s draining the treasury. Let crackheads sit in a corner and kill themselves. It’s their choice.

catlady

January 10th, 2011
4:29 pm

I know several women who get disability checks, food stamps, housing because they are drug addicts! This has to stop! Maybe Governor Deal will put an end to this malarkey! If they worked they wouldn’t have the time for drugs,and their self-esteem would increase. See the article in the NY
Times about this.

We have to do something about all the “disabled” we have who can still manage to procreate and pursue their leisure activities! People who truly are disabled cannot get help without years of appeals, but we have folks who have ridden the disabled wagon for generations,and they are passing it on to their children. Kids don’t need disability checks!

On the national level, we need to cut out the SS welfare check–the check sent to the mates of SS recipients/workers. If you do not work, you do not qualify for SS–period! In the 1930s it might have made sense to protect the widows of workers, but now it does not! The same for Medicare. If you have not paid in, you do not qualify.

Finally, have you noticed how the Georgia tax commission people are advocating cutting the state income tax–in a few years–but adding on additional sales taxes (right away). Oh, and by the way, keeping or expanding the state tax exemptions for some favored groups. THIS, FOLKS, is what the Fair Tax would degenerate into–a bunch of sweet-deal exceptions. At any rate, the middle class is going to be soaked on this one!

Tired of BS

January 10th, 2011
4:29 pm

Hypo…. so continuing to do the same thing we’ve been doing is going to work better. We have got to do something to stop the madness. Maybe legalizing is the way to handle it, I don’t know, but we have got to do something different.

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:32 pm

“If Obama Supporters could behave themselves, be considerate of others and obey the same laws as the rest of us (for a change), the State would not have to spend so much money on correctional facilities.”

Obama Supporters is one of the sneakiest dogwhistle euphemisms for black people i’ve ever read.

“Hypo…. so continuing to do the same thing we’ve been doing is going to work better. We have got to do something to stop the madness. Maybe legalizing is the way to handle it, I don’t know, but we have got to do something different.”

yeah, but do you realize how profitable it is to keep drugs illegal? not for you, the common taxpayer, no, but if you pulled yourself up by your entrepreneurial bootstraps and opened a prison you would be raking in the money

whiteboy

January 10th, 2011
4:34 pm

@ Tired of BS

” young minority men”!?…..What about meth and our own white people….you should be tired of all BS including yours! Stop making it race!!!!

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:35 pm

it’s always easier to blame black people for being black than it is to blame white people for hating blacks

Ronnie Bolling

January 10th, 2011
4:36 pm

If America wants to stop our insane drug war against its own citizens that president Richard Nixon started in 1971 we should study what Portugal did years ago Google it for info on how it has worked). Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) has been advocating this common sense approach for years.

Keith

January 10th, 2011
4:36 pm

It’s simple- decriminalize pot as step one.

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
4:41 pm

blaming drugs for creating poverty is like blaming al capone for inventing booze. deal is unwilling to take a realistic look at drugs, rather he would prefer to cater to moralistic squares by proclaiming all of the invented evils of drugs. i wish we had a governor who understands the historic lesson of Prohibition, specifically that Prohibition never works and is a great big waste of time and money

Freedom lover

January 10th, 2011
4:51 pm

hypocrites – thanks for saving me the trouble of having to present the only intelligent response there is to these misguided ramblings of our new governor. It is sad that folks can’t step back even a bit to see that the policy itself is the problem. Legalization is no utopia, but neither is this current approach, and freedom is always the better solution. Sadly this issue is too emotionally charged for people to approach it with the common sense that is needed. Sadly too that all of the public supporters of the current policies directly benefit financially from the illegal classification of drugs. The biggest funders of Partnership for a Drug Free America are the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries. The drug treatment industry which benefits hugely from forced treatments through the courts also supports the current situation (with maybe an even great emphasis on treatment over prison – naturally). And of course the Federal government, who’s CIA routinely buys and sells drugs all over the world (remember Iran Contra) to pad their budget, the police forces who get all their fun gadgets and fancy cars through assest forfeiture (mainly of drug related items), and the prison-industrial complex whose bread and butter is locking up massive segments of the population (of course knowing that most of them are non-violent and easy money).

Until the common sense of the citizens can override the vested financial interests of the benefactors, this war on drugs will continue to be a scourge on our country. The problem is government. One would hope that Deal would get that (but then he is a republican, not a libertarian).

Is it too late to vote for John Monds?

BRW

January 10th, 2011
4:51 pm

Wouldn’t prohibition of anything be against all Tea Party and Liberatarian ideals? “Keep your dang guvment hands off my reefer!”

Katz P Ajamas

January 10th, 2011
4:52 pm

Law enforcement related to drug law is as big a business as the drugs themselves. Therefor there is no motivation for either side to solve the problem. Some other reforms are needed as well.
1)Legalize home production and consumption of marijuana.
2)Provide free drugs to registered users. In exchange, their registry information is public knowledge.
3)Confiscate the motor vehicle of anyone who fails an “operational capability” test. Too stoned, drunk, tired, or blind to be driving? You lose you vehicle.
4)Reform insurance and require that a drivers license be valid only so long as liability insurance is up to date. Henceforth, all new vehicles will require a valid license (smart card) in addition to a starting code which is controlled by the owners.
5)Treat property crime as battery. When someone steals from you, they are stealing the time it took you to acquire that possession. They are in fact, stealing part of your life.
5)Release all non-violent, non-thieving, drug users who are currently in jail.

Meth is a Scourge

January 10th, 2011
4:55 pm

Both Governor Deal and House Speaker Ralston hail from rural Northern GA, home to that frightening scourge known as meth. Typically, hard-working, blue collar types will use meth just to keep up with their two jobs.

Now, we see kids, everyone using meth. Making meth legal is worse than making drinking and driving legal. Meth users die. They steal, lie, and die.

Treat addiction as the problem it is – A medical issue.

Meth is a horrible drug, it will rob one of their soul.

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
5:05 pm

methamphetamine addiction is a very bad thing, scourge. i agree.

but the epidemic of crappy bathtub meth is directly created by government policy. because good drugs are expensive, your only consumption alternative is the crap skeeter makes in his shed. simply eating a dexedrine pill is much healthier than vaporizing a meth rock, due to the longer metabolization time which reduces issues of acute toxicity

people will always find ways to intoxicate themselves. mandating sobriety is just as stupid and useless as mandating celibacy. in fact, the hypocritical face of government is shown once again when you recognize that massive alcohol consumption and abuse is fully tolerated by government, but the simple possession of much healthier drugs is illegal. some forms of meth are even tolerated by government (adderol, ritalin, etc.) Desoxyn is the brand name for FDA-approved methamphetamine, practically no different than backyard brew.

if the government was interested in combating the meth problem, they would do their best to dismantle the black market where meth flourishes. the easiest and best way to do that would be to sell (and tax) meth in stores.

GAObserver

January 10th, 2011
5:09 pm

Now MIAS.. don’t you go airing out the good ‘ol White folks’ dirty laundry like that. We all know drugs is the problem of them Black and Brown folk. (LOL)

Jesse

January 10th, 2011
5:11 pm

Send the illegals home. Require the id’s. Penalize the employers

Bill

January 10th, 2011
5:17 pm

Every time we have declared “war” on something that is not a country, we have lost… war on poverty, war on drugs, war on terrorism. War is great language to get people inspired, but it is bad policy in all of these cases. Maybe we could begin by dropping the hyperbole.

chainz

January 10th, 2011
5:18 pm

set the pot heads free…… quit chasing agricultural salesman, go for the real problems the chemical drug abusers and dealers……..Never seen a pot head rob a store for a sack of grass…. Could save billions in tax dollars for housing and court resources and gain the taxation revenue……….Win Win…… Glad I voted for Nathan now…..

bart

January 10th, 2011
5:24 pm

Deal has talked about further cuts to education, yet education is the way out of poverty and addiction. It is also an economic engine because business and industry will not locate in a state with an uneducated workforce. I hope Deal wises up and realizes the answer to many of our problems is a good public education system.

alex

January 10th, 2011
5:25 pm

1. Decriminalize pot and handle it about the same as alcohol (restrict sales to minors). This seems to be a waste of resources when there are much worse criminal activities associated with other drugs. 2. Punish the drug users (heroine, cocaine, meth, etc) the same as the drug dealers.

3. This will never happen, but I’ll mention it anyway: After 3 or 4 attempts at rehabilitation revoke the citzenship of the offender (user or dealer) and deport them to a less than friendly country (Iran comes to mind) and let them deal with it.

td

January 10th, 2011
5:38 pm

Well if you do not like the easy idea of tough love then how about instead of waiting for young people to become addicted then we have preventative care and find these people with additive personality tendencies when they are young and do some serious retraining of their minds to put the additive personality traits to work for the betterment of society. This will cost us less money in the long run then to try to get them off whatever drug they get on.

Patriot

January 10th, 2011
5:43 pm

Don’t forget to consider our collective history …

“Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!” -George Washington, The Writings of George Washington Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress), 1794

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God cannot long retain it.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself; and where they are, they should be changed. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against possession of marihuana in private for personal use…Therefore, I support legislation amending Federal law to eliminate all Federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce [28g] of marihuana.” -Jimmy Carter, U.S. President, Message to congress, 1977

“Congress should definitely consider decriminalizing possession of marijuana… We should concentrate on prosecuting the rapists and burglars who are a menace to society.”-Dan Quayle, U.S. Representative and Vice president under President Bush, March 1977

“The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.” -Albert Einstein, My First Impression of the U.S.A., 1921

hypocrites

January 10th, 2011
5:53 pm

“Well if you do not like the easy idea of tough love then how about instead of waiting for young people to become addicted then we have preventative care and find these people with additive personality tendencies when they are young and do some serious retraining of their minds to put the additive personality traits to work for the betterment of society. This will cost us less money in the long run then to try to get them off whatever drug they get on.”

tough love, eugenics and brainwashing. sounds great!

actually no it does not. i was being sarcastic. sorry. your proposal is draconian and you have a very poor understanding of what makes people tick

Don

January 10th, 2011
5:58 pm

“a few lessons from Sheriff Joe Arpaio”. You do realize that Joe has cost Maricopa County over $30 million in liability. The county is currently paying $1.5 million/year for a policy with a $5 million deductible. Just because the citizens of Maricopa county are morons (they keep electing him), doesn’t mean we have to be.

Winfield J. Abbe

January 10th, 2011
5:58 pm

Read “Let Those Dopers Be” by Norm Stamper, 34 year police officer at http://articles.latimes.com/2005/oct/16/opinion/op-legalize16. The war on drugs is a dismal failure and is bankrupting our country. The only answer is legalization and regulation.

j. warren

January 10th, 2011
5:58 pm

The drug problem is not just a black or white issue. It is an american issue. Drugs do not discriminate. They are in all communities no matter what nationality or income level. We all must find ways to prevent the drug problem and one way to do that is by not taking them. We all are our brothers and sisters keeper whether we like it or not.

Brother Bill

January 10th, 2011
6:02 pm

Change the penalty for possession of personal amounts of drugs to $1.00
Next, at the Federal level, legalize and tax drugs. Have criminal penalties for distribution without a license.

Result: Elimination of drug problem, drug violence, Mexican Drug Cartels, and new tax revenue from drug usage.

AT

January 10th, 2011
6:08 pm

Just as prohibition fed money to the mob (and knocked nary a whit in the demon rum) we blame all the wrong people for the drug related incarcerations and violence. If America didn’t insist on buying drugs, and if those drugs were not illegal, the cartels would have no demand for their supply. We never learn, we just keep blaming someone else and creating more suffering.

Reality

January 10th, 2011
6:17 pm

Republicans have all of the answers. Look at how great they have led Georgia. We are tops in education, tops in making jobs, tops in every category!

Continue to vote for republicans. That’s the Georgia way…

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bigguy

January 10th, 2011
6:26 pm

How ’bout if we offered castration as an alternative to incarceration FOR 1ST TIME OFFENDERS? The second time, make it MANDATORY. See what happens.

Mr. Bill

January 10th, 2011
6:26 pm

“If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.”
If you made drugs legal, you would have more control. But you would still have the problem with the addicts who would be homeless and jobless.
And “prisons for profit” was not a smart move. Out-sourceing govt. jobs to private corporations “to save money” seldom does. And such businesses can raise the cost any time they wish.
But we can’t put criminals on the street to save money, as California is doing.

PeggyAttaway

January 10th, 2011
6:33 pm

It is apparent that the war on drugs has failed. Get these young kids out of the felony courts for possessing minor amounts of weed and controlled substances and use those law enforcement/judicial resources for greater things. I don’t use drugs…Actually, I hate that very idea but once a person falls into the legal trap, it only makes things worse. I am completely convinced that sometimes the legal consequences actually escalates the addictions for some.

hypocrites is a total idiot

January 10th, 2011
6:35 pm

making drugs legal is stupidist thing ever…the death penalty for repeat offenders sounds more reasonable.

Bobby

January 10th, 2011
6:36 pm

Part of the problem with our criminal system is we make jail way too comfortable. If we denied prisioners TV’s, exercise and just locked them up in a small cell to serve their time, they would work much harder to stay out of jail.

As for the drug problem, it’s white folks that are the biggest users. Blacks are simply the conduits who get caught while white folks keep an arms distance. If we started making white folks serve as much jail time for using as blacks for selling, we would do better in combatting drugs, if that’s a worthwhile goal. I’m not so sure it is.