Kentucky Leading the Nation in Its Efforts to Curb Drug Abuse and Be “Effective on Crime”
Frankfort, KY: Today, Governor Ernie Fletcher, joined by Lt. Governor Steve Pence, announced Kentucky’s first comprehensive drug control plan to protect Kentucky families and communities from substance abuse. The policy, which is based on the recommendations of the Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit, provides immediate and long-term strategies designed to more effectively address Kentucky’s substance abuse problems. The policy includes the Governor’s initiative to create an Office of Drug Control Policy. Founding Executive Director Sylvia Lovely will report to Lt. Governor Steve Pence for the coordination of all substance abuse policies. This is the first time Kentucky has conducted a statewide, comprehensive assessment, initiated an action plan and followed through with centralized authority to formulate policy and plan on this scale.
The Governor’s drug control policy will focus on establishing a more balanced and systemic approach that includes enforcement, prevention-education and treatment. A more balanced plan is becoming increasingly necessary as drug offenses in the Commonwealth continue to rise. Statistics show that of the 18,000 men and women serving felony convictions in Kentucky, approximately 4,000 are incarcerated for drug-related crimes. This represents a nearly 300% increase in the number of inmates entering the prison system on drug charges over the past 10 years. According to the Department of Corrections, about 60% of those currently incarcerated are substance abusers, yet the state only has the capacity to treat 19% of those offenders who need intensive substance abuse treatment.
“I would like to thank each member of the Drug Control Summit for their hard work and commitment to evaluating Kentucky’s drug problem and formulating solutions to provide safer, healthier communities for the citizens of this great Commonwealth. Each year, drug abuse destroys hope and opportunity for countless Kentuckians. Because of this, my administration is going to implement a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the drug problem in Kentucky,” stated Governor Ernie Fletcher. “It is our goal to not only be tough on crime, but more importantly, to be effective on crime. It is essential that we all work together to curb the drug problem in Kentucky.”
The newly formed Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) will coordinate Kentucky’s response to substance abuse; close gaps in service and administrative issues to improve drug control programs; and implement effective strategies and long range planning in Kentucky. Governor Fletcher also announced a one-year commitment for pilot projects across the state that will center around prevention/education, treatment and a positive progression to Kentucky’s drug law enforcement efforts. These projects include the following:
Increasing the number of drug courts and drug treatment facilities;
Providing shorter waiting periods for admittance to existing treatment programs;
Opening the lines of communications between law enforcement agencies;
Establishing best practice models in Drug Task Forces;
Coordinating strategies for more uniform prosecution and outcome based drug prevention;
Offering education programs for children in public schools and more education programs for adults and parents;
Charging the ODCP to further examine Kentucky’s drug problem and continue to implement a balanced policy to neutralize this evolving problem.
Funding for the ODCP will be provided by the Justice and Public Safety, Health and Family Services, and Education cabinets. Funds previously earmarked for drug programs will be utilized. Additionally, the ODCP will pursue federal grants to pay for more education, enforcement and treatment programs.
Governor Fletcher also announced that the administration is committed to continuing dialogue with all Kentuckians on the state’s substance abuse issues and will continue to maintain the Summit’s Web site, www.kydrugsummit.ky.gov. The Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit was a 51-member team of state, local and federal officials in drug prevention-education, treatment and law enforcement who spent 20 weeks assessing Kentucky’s substance abuse issues.