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A Plea for Drug Prevention
Federal Official Visits Atlanta, Asks Congress to Retain Funding

Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

February 18, 1995

U.S. Drug Control Policy Director Lee Brown called on Congress not to slash money for drug prevention and rehabilitation and paid a symbolic visit Friday to a program in Techwood Homes that has benefitted from federal funding.

"We know we need drug prevention programs and we know they work," Brown said. "This is an American crisis, and we need the resources to get the job done."

Brown, who was Atlanta's public safety commissioner from 1978 to 1982, also assessed community policing in the Capitol Homes and Techwood Homes housing developments. He broadcast his message on a morning-drive radio show and ate lunch with Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell and Police Chief Beverly Harvard at Thelma's restaurant downtown.

President Clinton is asking that the nation's overall drug strategy be funded at a level of $ 14.6 billion for fiscal year 1996, an increase of $ 1.3 billion from the previous year, Brown said.

But he admitted some of his programs are a hard sell in Congress, which is considering proposals to cut $ 400 million for drug treatment of U.S. prisoners and to divert $ 8 billion in discretionary funding for prevention programs.

Sue Rusche, executive director of the National Families in Action prevention program at Techwood Homes, said her $ 2 million budget for the next five years is jeopardized if Congress dismantles the discretionary funding.

The program, founded in 1977, works with parents of children at Usher Middle School and runs a drug information center and after-school program for children in public housing, she said.

"We feel like we have made a difference here," Rusche said.

Brown said every dollar spent on drug prevention saves $ 7 spent later to incarcerate and treat drug abusers. "There's a gap of 1 million people who can't get treatment because we don't have the facilities to serve them," he said. "We need to close the gap."

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