Calls for Same Opportunity for Families of Florida's Thousands of Incarcerated Non-Violent Drug Offenders <br>
1Following the arrest of Florida Governor Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle for prescription fraud in Florida, the Bush family released a compelling statement that should serve as a wake up call. "Unfortunately, substance abuse is an issue confronting many families across our nation," the statement said. "We ask the public and the media to respect our family's privacy during this difficult time so that we can help our daughter."
The Drug Policy Alliance, formerly known as the Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation, expressed its support for the Bush family as they confront this difficult family issue. But the Alliance also pointed out the sharp discrepancy in Florida's treatment of drug abuse among people with less political power and financial means. The Alliance is the nation's leading organization working for drug law reform.
"The sad case of Noelle Bush - and those of other members of the president's family - reminds us that substance abuse problems do not discriminate," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Alliance. "Unfortunately, our drug policies do."
The latest Bush story involving drugs comes in the wake of President George W. Bush's twin daughters' well-publicized brushes with the law for underage drinking -- and Bush's own admissions to "youthful indiscretions."
For the past ten years more inmates have been admitted to Florida state prisons for drug offenses than for any other charge. The state's voters will likely have an opportunity to vote on a ballot initiative this November to provide treatment instead of incarceration for the thousands of people who, like Noelle Bush, have substance abuse problems. The initiative would provide drug treatment for an estimated 10,000 non-violent Floridians per year who otherwise would be incarcerated.
To date, Governor Bush has expressed staunch opposition to the possible initiative. Bush has also cut drug treatment and drug court budgets in the state.
"Jeb Bush is right," said Nadelmann. "His daughter's substance abuse problem should be treated as a private, family matter. But does the governor feel the same way about other Floridians? Treat others as you would want your own son or daughter treated. It's a good principle in life, and a sound basis for drug policy."