The White House will ask Congress for $6.5 million to continue a revamped program of testing arrestees around the country for substance abuse. The Justice Department said today that the proposal would be included in the fiscal year 2005 budget request for the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which oversees research on crime fighting. President Bush will send the overall budget to Congress next week.
Two weeks ago, NIJ halted work on the program, called Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring, or ADAM, citing a reduced NIJ budget approved by Congress. Unless localities find funds to continue testing arrestees, the data gathering will be interrupted pending congressional action on funding. Law enforcement experts and criminologists have praised ADAM for providing up-to-date information on drug abuse trends in localities.
NIJ said it is working with the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the White House “drug czar”) to replace ADAM with a data collection system that will provide national estimates of drug use by arrestees. Critics have expressed doubts that such an arrangement would provide meaningful data because drug abuse trends tend to vary significantly by locality.
The Justice Department said the new program would involve about 25 “core sites” that would “collect data to both inform local law enforcement pracices” and to “contribute to the national estimate of arrestee drug use.” An additional 50 or more sites would be added later.
A Justice Department spokesperson said that the $6.5 million request, if approved by Congress, might provide for testing at less frequent intervals than the quarterly testing done now. NIJ had killed the program because it was costing more than $8 million a year, and Congress cut the agency’s total research budget to $6 million.
Bruce Johnson of N.D.R.I., which oversees ADAM testing in New York City, said he hoped Congress would provide funds to continue the program, but the “political realities don’t look promising.” Johnson said that even if money were restored, losing 2004 data and the structure to collect it will be a “diaster.” He noted that it took about two years in the late 1990s to overhaul the former Drug Use Forecasting program, which started in the late 1980s, into what became the ADAM program that was killed this month by NIJ.
ADAM has involved urine testing of all arrestees for serious crimes in 35 places. Contrary to some reports, it is not restricted to jail inmates.