Statement of Judy Clarke, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, on the TRAC study showing uneven and irregular allocation of federal drug prosecution resources among 90 federal districts
Washington, DC (October 18, 1996) -- "You'll notice that the federal districts with the highest rates of drug prosecution referrals are fairly rural, with low urban populations. They do not have large county and municipal budgets. Forming federal-local drug task forces helps bring federal tax dollars to small town police and sheriff's offices, not to mention providing the federal nexus for drug asset forfeiture, in which 90 percent of the proceeds of a federal forfeiture are returned to the seizing police agency. In Mississippi and West Virginia, two states with the highest percentages of federal drug prosecutions, drug investigations contribute significantly to local law enforcement budgets.
"Is this a misuse of valuable federal law enforcement resources? Maybe. In the areas with the highest rates of referral, if it weren't for federal drug prosecutions, there would hardly be any federal crimes to prosecute. And in low referral areas, like Los Angeles, which has plenty of drug activity, there would still be plenty of federal crimes like bank robbery and health care fraud to keep federal authorities and the U.S. Attorney's Office busy as bees, even without federal drug prosecutions in the mix."
Judy Clarke is Executive Director of Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, and is a nationally-recognized expert and lecturer on federal criminal law and procedure. She is currently co-counsel with Quin Denvir, Federal Defender of Sacramento, Cal., in United States v. Kaczynski, the UNABOM case. Last year, Ms. Clarke returned to her home state to defend Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother convicted of drowning her two children. Smith was spared the death penalty.
Journalists can gain immediate access to the TRAC study through the World Wide Web at: http://trac.syr.edu/tracdea/, password kingpin. Use of the password commits the user to a hold-for-release agreement until 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, according to TRAC.