Federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske is looking to Baltimore to help set the nation’s strategy, focusing on the city’s 15-year-old drug treatment court, which emphasizes therapy over incarceration, says the Baltimore Sun. In Baltimore, drug addiction and the resulting crime “is the most significant public health crisis,” said Greg Warren, president of Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Inc., which sets the city’s drug strategy.
Each year, the prison system returns 9,000 convicts to Baltimore streets, and, for most of them, to the drug abuse that led them to incarceration in the first place. Most of the city’s criminal activity is drug-related, with 80 percent of those arrested here – four out of five people – failing their initial drug tests. Baltimore’s intensive probation supervision, and the significant participation of the Division of Parole and Probation, are atypical. U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who met with Kerlikowske yesterday in Baltimore, said the city’s drug treatment court participants are more than three times as likely as other convicts to be employed after the program, and they’re a third as likely to use drugs during treatment.