US: Violence, Teen Drug Use Are Ashcroft Priorities

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Truth-Seeker, Feb 9, 2001.

  1. Media Awareness Project

    US: Violence, Teen Drug Use Are Ashcroft Priorities
    Newshawk: Doug McVay
    Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
    Source: Washington Post (DC)
    Copyright: 2001 The Washington Post Company
    Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
    Author: David A. Vise and Dan Eggen


    Attorney General John D. Ashcroft outlined his top priorities to senior staffers yesterday, telling them that reducing gun violence, opposing teen drug use and battling discrimination against women and minorities in housing and voting will be his key early goals, a senior Justice Department official said.

    Ashcroft -- whose appointment sparked fierce, partisan debate in the Senate over his past stands on numerous social issues -- also has begun "an aggressive effort to reach out to Democrats" as well as holding customary meetings with members of his own party, said Deputy Chief of Staff David Israelite.

    Ashcroft will have lunch today with former attorney general Janet Reno and has invited the chairmen and ranking Democrats on the Senate and House Judiciary committees to meet with him soon.

    The release of Ashcroft's agenda, and his first public remarks on CNN's "Larry King Live" last night, appeared to be aimed, in part, at conveying the message that Ashcroft will carry out his duties in a fair and even-handed manner after sharp criticism during his Senate confirmation.

    Israelite said Ashcroft wants to make Project Exile -- a federal-local law enforcement partnership credited with reducing gun crime in Richmond - -- one of several models that can be replicated across the country. The program includes mandatory five-year minimum sentences for certain offenses committed while carrying a gun.

    "Our number one priority will be to reduce the incidence of gun violence," Israelite said. "One of the things that has made Project Exile work is the strict enforcement of violations of laws, and making gun prosecutions a priority in law enforcement."

    But Ashcroft's promises are sure to provoke doubts among lawmakers and activists who just last week were sharply criticizing his long-standing opposition to new gun controls, past Missouri desegregation plans and abortion.

    Senate Democrats expressed skepticism that Ashcroft could be trusted to protect the interests of women and minorities, accusing him of misrepresenting his true positions to gain public support and win confirmation. The Senate ultimately confirmed Ashcroft by a 58 to 42 vote.

    Ashcroft was criticized for opposing voluntary school desegregation plans in St. Louis and Kansas City while he served as Missouri's attorney general and governor. He also drew angry protests from groups that opposed his staunch opposition to abortion and feared he would not prevent protesters from illegally blocking access to abortion clinics.

    "Actions speak louder than words," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy ( D-Mass. ) said as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to confirm the former senator from Missouri. "His 30-year record of intense opposition on so many critical issues involving civil rights, women's rights, gun control and [judicial] nominations speak volumes and demonstrate, clearly and convincingly, that he is the wrong person to be attorney general of the United States."

    As part of his anti-violence initiative, Ashcroft also will support some new laws, including legislation that would make it illegal for people convicted of gun crimes as juveniles to ever own a gun.

    Israelite said Ashcroft will vigorously enforce civil rights laws and will launch special programs aimed at fighting violence against women, racial profiling, and discrimination against women and minorities in housing and voting.

    Israelite also promised a renewed focus on reducing drug use among teenagers. He said drug use among 12- to 17-year-olds has increased in recent years and that marijuana use among eighth-graders and 10th-graders also has risen.

    President Bush has said he wants to create a national Parents Drug Corps by providing $25 million to nonprofit organizations to educate and train parents in drug prevention.

    "We think it is important that the effort receive the proper attention and moral leadership," Israelite said.

    MAP posted-by: Doc-Hawk

  2. like we need more restrictions.

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