[7/14/17 CLAIRE BERNISH] In his sanctimonious quest to revive the laughably inept war on drugs, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions now champions this stellar plan: resuscitate the interventionist prevention program — proven wholly worthless by the government, itself — known as D.A.R.E.
Yep — believe it or not — you heard right: D.A.R.E.
Apparently deaf — or, perhaps, oblivious — to all evidence the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program should better be called an hilarious exercise in how not to convince kids to keep away from substances the State deems illegal, Sessions touted its myriad imaginary successes recently, asserting,
“I believe that DARE was instrumental to our success by educating children on the dangers of drug use. I firmly believe that you have saved lives. And I want to say thank you for that. Whenever I ask adults around age 30 about prevention, they always mention the DARE program. Your efforts work. Lives and futures are saved.”
“We know it worked before and we can make it work again,” the feckless anti-drug crusader and avid authoritarian added.
However, in case it wasn’t obvious in context, D.A.R.E. doesn’t work — it never has — and resurrecting this badly beaten dead horse won’t change that its corpse should have been entombed decades ago.
“I firmly believe that your work saved lives,” Sessions glowingly bloviated to D.A.R.E.’s 30th anniversary training conference in Dallas on Tuesday.
Sessions’ opinion aside, the U.S. surgeon general declared in 2001 — which, should be noted, came long after its 1993 revamping — the putative drug education program had “little or no deterrent effects on substance use.”
“DARE is the most widely implemented youth drug prevention program in the United States,” the surgeon general’s report stated. “It receives substantial support from parents, teachers, police, and government funding agencies, and its popularity persists despite numerous well-designed evaluations and meta-analyses that consistently show little or no deterrent effects on substance use. Overall, evidence on the effects of the traditional DARE curriculum, which is implemented in grades 5 and 6, shows that children who participate are as likely to use drugs as those who do not participate.”
A report from Scientific American at the beginning of 2014 reiterated the government’s findings, calling D.A.R.E. “ineffective — and may even heighten the use of some substances among teens.”
Indeed, D.A.R.E.’s sole efficacy arguably rests in its manipulation of elementary, middle, and high school students as Orwellian child Spies — encouraging them to snitch on drug-ingesting family members and friends — an aspect resoundingly clear in its original police officer-teachers.
Considering D.A.R.E. was the brainchild of former Los Angeles Police Department Chief Daryl Gates — Sessions’ imperious law-and-order doppelgänger, noted for the ignominious belief recreational drug users “ought to be taken out and shot” — perhaps the propagandic assertion ‘drugs are evil’ matters more to the State than actual results.
“We’re going to condemn those people who casually use drugs in this nation,” Gates once sermonized.
Sessions’ championing of D.A.R.E. further neglects its established vapid wasting of billions of taxpayer dollars — as if pleading with kids to just not try illicit substances would abruptly resonate more in 2017 than it did in the Just Say No 80s.
Revisions to the program did little to inject life, given its wholesome ignorance of youth and of the driving factors behind drug use — not to mention brazen or purposeful obliviousness to the radically misguided war on drugs, itself. Vacuous anti-drug propaganda, after all, is little more than governmental hot air.
“D.A.R.E. does not work to reduce substance use,” the National Criminal Justice Reference Service asserted in a 1998 report to Congress. “The program’s content, teaching methods, and use of uniformed police officers rather than teachers might each explain its weak evaluations.”
Since the State repeatedly inveighed its own drug-resistance program as worthless, perhaps the impetus for Sessions’ inexplicable cheerleading of this otherwise dead-in-the-water proposal can be found where it counts — in Washingtonian pols’ wallets.
In February, the attorney general garnered resounding applause from the for-profit prison industry by nullifying President Obama’s plan to pull federal funding — a seeming punitive measure for despicable conditions in the nation’s myriad private facilities — announcing the Trump administration’s full support.
That announcement, however, didn’t exactly emanate from nowhere.
Two former Senate aides of Sessions, David Stewart and Ryan Robichaux, took career paths evincing a muddied, if inextricable, link to the very industry standing to profit obscenely from a renewal of the war on drugs: they became lobbyists for the contemptible Geo Group — a direct competitor of CoreCivic — a development of which the Nation noted at the time,
“Geo had already positioned itself with Trump during the campaign. A subsidiary of Geo gave $225,000 to a pro-Trump Super PAC, in violation of restrictions on federal contractors from political donations. Needless to say, the Federal Election Commission has done nothing with this information. And the return on investment could prove to be enormous […]
“The prominence of Sessions aides’ lobbying for Geo should be enough to push them past CoreCivic, expanding their share of federal contracts even more. This is simple pay-to-play favoritism.”
Without a continual flux of nonviolent drug offenders, private prisons wouldn’t have a financial leg to stand on — and what better way to ensure full capacity than by moralizing drug use and rolling out ineffective drug prevention programs.
In that context, Sessions’ ardor for decimating the planet’s drug supply — a literal impossibility — and his quest to arouse the empty golem of D.A.R.E. suddenly jive, when factoring in the money trail.
While the United States insists against mounds of evidence to the contrary the Drug War sacrosanct, those actually interested in combating substance abuse and dependence would be better served looking to the revolutionary experiment undertaken over a decade ago by Portugal.
Indeed, Portugal’s earth-shattering 2001 move to decriminalize all drugs — from cannabis to heroin, to crack, cocaine, MDMA, psilocybin, and, well, all others — was found by the U.S.’ Drug Policy Alliance ‘significantly effective in improving public safety and health.’
Decriminalization may seem counterproductive to the average American, having been inculcated with stigmatizing anti-drug propaganda since childhood, but Portugal has cleared overcrowded prisons, reduced crime by orders of magnitude, and given hope to those addicted, as the nation opts for treatment over time in a cage for violators who request it.
By espousing D.A.R.E. and a continued crusade of eradication and authoritarianism in U.S. drug policy, Sessions has chosen fealty to the inept, incarceration-for-profit stalwarts, militarized police, crime, black markets, ignorance of fact, and the inevitable detriment to the collective public health over proven and theoretical solutions.
Sessions isn’t daring anyone to ‘keep off drugs’ — he’s daring Americans to continue buying the fabrication, so the drug war can verify the need for its own existence.
My the pithy among us dare, instead, to declare the war on drugs the deadest horse.