Janet Reno on Drugs
Former Attorney General; Democratic Challenger FL Governor
Do more for early intervention, as well as street work
[At her Senate confirmation hearings as Attorney General], asked by Senator Orrin Hatch about her priorities in the war against drugs,
Reno said, “I want to do more in terms of early intervention, but I do not want to relax the fight against drugs on our streets.” She favored “vigorous enforcement against traffickers, against anybody who would deal in this human misery.”
Source: Doing the Right Thing, by Paul Anderson, p.173
, Mar 9, 1993
Created Drug Courts to give first offenders a second chance
For more than a decade, Reno had searched for a way to dent the county’s steadily growing epidemic of drug abuse. [Reno advocated] an ambitious experiment to intervene with drug abusers before they had thrown their lives away. In June 1989 the Drug Court
was created. It allowed a specially-assigned judge to refer a first-time offender to a treatment program that now includes acupuncture therapy, counseling, and job training, all while undergoing random drug testing. If the offender successfully completes
the program, the state attorney’s office does not prosecute, and the charge is dropped. If he or she stumbles, the judge can throw the offender in jail.
Reno calls it her “carrot and stick approach.” It solidified her image as part sympathetic social worker, part stern prosecutor.
Source: Doing the Right Thing, by Paul Anderson, p.121-22
, Jun 1, 1989
No mandatory drug sentences unless more prisons built
In 1986, Reno headed a statewide task force on the crack cocaine problem. Among its recommendations: appointment of a state “drug czar,” enactment of stiffer penalties for cocaine possession, construction of more prison cells, and development of
better drug-treatment and antidrug education programs.
But the task force ignored the state’s budget woes and get-tough mood when it also recommended that health insurers be required to provide coverage for substance-abuse treatment.
Reno convinced the group to stop short of calling for mandatory sentences for possession of tiny amounts of cocaine, which many prosecutors said would allow targeting street-corner crack dealers. Because the state prison system was already so overcrowded
army surplus tents were being pitched on some prison grounds-Reno reasoned that mandatory sentences would have been “meaningless.” Without additional prison cells, she said, “The whole discussion of penalties is really absurd.”
Source: Doing the Right Thing, by Paul Anderson, p.115
, Oct 15, 1986
Undercover cocaine investigations despite DEA protests
In July 1979, in a bloody shootout in the Dadeland mall, Miami’s cocaine cowboys exploded into public consciousness [and became the basis for the TV show “Miami Vice”]. Reno and other officials blamed the federal government for not halting the flow of
illegal drugs, especially cocaine, into Florida. As the violence escalated, Reno spoke out. “The security of South Florida must be protected,: she declared. ”That security has been impaired by drug traffickers and illegal aliens. The US has the resources
to make our borders secure.“
In a case dubbed the ”Video Canary,“ Reno’s investigators worked undercover to track drug smugglers. Local DEA agents objected, claiming it was more important to stop the shipments before they hit the streets than
to pursue the limits of the ring. The operation deadlocked. Reno often cited the conflicts in the Video Canary case as an example of how the feds could stifle creative work by state and local officials.
Source: Doing the Right Thing, by Paul Anderson, p. 86-88
, Jul 2, 1979