Governor names Townsend to lead drug abuse study group

December 17, 1998|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Gov. Parris N. Glendening has announced that Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend will chair a task force to study ways to make substance abuse treatment programs more widely available in an effort to reduce crime.

The 21-member Task Force to Study Increasing the Availability of Substance Abuse Programs is to make recommendations to the governor in time for the General Assembly's 2000 session.

The governor on Tuesday named Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a physician who sponsored the legislation that established the panel, to serve as vice chairman.

In naming Townsend, Glendening sends a signal that he sees the expansion of drug and alcohol abuse treatment as an important issue in crime prevention.

Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat, said 80 percent of the crime in the Baltimore region is committed by an estimated 100,000 drug addicts. He put the costs in crime alone at $2.5 billion.

Other legislators who will serve on the task force are Del. Pauline H. Menes, Prince George's County Democrat; Sen. Robert R. Neall, Anne Arundel County Republican; and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore Democrat.

Other members include high-ranking state officials, substance abuse program directors and health industry leaders.

Morhaim said drug treatment programs are cost-effective in achieving significant cuts in crime.

"Studies have shown that every dollar spent on treating drug addiction saves taxpayers $7 in other expenses, and that FTC doesn't include the victims' suffering, which you can't put a dollar value on," he said.

Pub Date: 12/17/98

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