Centre County’s drug law enforcement have netted some serious profits this year. Out of nearly a million dollars taken in by the Attorney General’s office, $250,000 has come back to the Centre County District Attorney’s Office to spend as the elected District Attorney sees fit.
The lack of oversight concerns one of our county commissioners, Chris Exarchos, who would like to see increased public scrutiny of the use of such funds.
I don’t have a problem per se with the secrecy built into the law that prevents the public from knowing what these funds are spent on. That being said, if we assume the goal of law enforcement vis a vie drug policy is to reduce the impact of drugs on the community, this approach is not likely to result in appreciable gains. Explaining why she supports the law’s secrecy provisions as they are presently written, District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller shared this with the Centre Daily Times:
That would put people engaging in the drug trade on specific alert to look for the tools we have given a particular department to fight against that activity,” Parks Miller said. “If we said we bought a certain recording device, if they bought drugs and there was a device that looked like that, they would be on alert. We’re not going to give criminals an advantage.
Security through obscurity is generally regarded as insufficient protection against any reasonably motivated party. Our law enforcement will continue to catch the low-hanging fruit: the slow and/or stupid drug dealers, and the casual drug user who sells to a friend. The smarter dealers will continue to elude capture.
(Speaking of which, Centre county is way overdue for a big drug bust. Surely the market has had sufficient time to recover since the last round a few years ago.)
So really, the $250k has bought us nothing new relative to effective crime prevention. Our drug policy continues. The war drags on. We have always been at war with Eastasia.
A much better use of this money would be to put it into prevention and treatment. I firmly believe we need to do more to address the underlying causes of addiction. To that end, we should treat addicts as medical patients, not as criminals.
I think I have pressed enough hot buttons for one day.