Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384
Indiana is the latest state to consider joining Tennessee, Illinois, Montana and Minnesota in enacting a state methamphetamine offender registry. Indiana’s sentencing policy committee unanimously approved the proposal recently. The recommendation awaits endorsement by the state’s general assembly.
If approved, state police will establish and maintain the registry, which would publicly display address and other information via the internet about convicted meth users, makers and dealers.
Congress is considering even more extreme legislation. The Clean Town Act would require states to create registries for anyone convicted of a drug trafficking offense. The legislation would affect hundreds of thousands of Americans.
“These registries would make it impossible for nonviolent methamphetamine offenders to get their lives back together again, destroying their ability to get a job and become productive members of society,” said Bill Piper, director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Policymakers are wasting taxpayer dollars and undermining public safety by keeping methamphetamine offenders unemployed.”
Methamphetamine use has jumped to the forefront of national concern as the latest U.S. drug epidemic. Cover stories depict meth as “America’s Most Dangerous Drug.” Alarmist media coverage of the dangers of methamphetamine and the draconian political responses that followed are reminiscent of the public reaction to crack cocaine in the 1980s. Now desperate measures are being enacted to tackle this “high priority” problem – measures that sometimes invade the privacy and civil liberties of citizens in ways that seem far removed from the war on drugs.
Recent studies by several policy organizations, including the Sentencing Project, have questioned the existence this so-called epidemic. The studies concluded that methamphetamine abuse is not as wide-spread as it has been reported, with its use declining among youth, stabilizing among adults and demonstrating no increase in first-time users. Even government data dispute the existence of an epidemic.
“We need to invest scarce public resources into educating the public about the use of meth and providing high quality treatment options to fight addiction, not create an intrusive public registry,” Piper said.