Press Release  | 07/18/2002

Noelle Bush Jailed for "Failing" Drug Treatment Program

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Drug Policy Alliance Says People Facing Challenges In Recovery Should be Helped, Not Punished
Jail and Effective Treatment Don

Noelle Bush, daughter of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, was sent to jail for 72 hours Wednesday after violating the conditions of her substance abuse treatment program. Bush, 24, was ordered by a Florida drug court to participate in treatment after she was charged with trying to acquire the anti-anxiety drug Xanax with a fraudulent prescription.

The Drug Policy Alliance supports the Bushes as they, like many Americans, cope with the complexities of substance abuse within their family. Noelle Bush's troubles follow President George W. Bush's twin daughters' well-publicized brushes with the law for underage drinking -- and the president's own admissions to "youthful indiscretions" and excessive drinking in his past.

"Helping, not punishment, should be our goal in responding to Ms. Bush and the many other Americans struggling with addiction," said Bill McColl, director of legislative affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Stumbling on the path to recovery - which is normal and human -- shouldn't be treated as a criminal act."

Short terms of incarceration are frequently used by drug courts to motivate a person who has failed to comply with mandated program requirements. Known as "flash incarceration," this tactic is now embraced by many judges across the country, and is gaining increasing momentum -- despite the lack of evidence suggesting it actually helps clients remain in treatment.

According to the Alliance, short jail terms have actually been shown to create barriers to recovery - by impeding access to the services in place at community-based facilities, including case management, peer counseling, ancillary services and other therapies.

"Our sincere hope," McColl said, "is that Noelle Bush will receive the support and compassion she needs to get healthy. For many, however, even a short stay in jail makes recovery harder, not easier."

Tony Newman at 510- 208-7711

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