Tonight, from Boston, The Advocates. William
Rusher Guest advocate Jack Cole. And the moderator, Michael Dukakis,
Good evening, and welcome to The Advocates.
Every week at this time we look at an important public issue in terms of a
practical choice. Tonight our question involves the treatment of drug
addicts, and specifically that question is this: Should Congress enact a
national involuntary commitment program for narcotic addicts? Advocate
William Rusher says yes.
Between a quarter and a
half million Americans are hopelessly addicted to narcotics. To support
their habit they have become the biggest and fastest growing group of
criminals and potential criminals in this country. New York and California
already have state laws requiring these people to submit to treatment
whether they want to or not. Tonight, for the sake of both society and the
addict, we ask your support for a federal law to the same effect that will
apply to all fifty states. With me is the man who introduced such a bill,
Congressman Lou Frey of Florida, as well as Jimmy Germano, a former
narcotics addict, and Mr. Roland Wood, the superintendent of the California
Guest advocate Jack Cole
Civil commitment, the title of
Congressman Frey's bill, has a nice medical ring to it, but let's face it,
it means incarceration, it means locks and bars and guards. And it doesn't
work. With me tonight are Mr. Neil Chayet, a very distinguished member of
the Bar, former Professor of Law at Boston University; Mr. Pleasant Harris,
formerly a heroin addict himself, now helping others to get out of that
condition; and the director of this state's, Massachusetts, drug
rehabilitation program, Doctor Matthew Dumont.
Thank you gentlemen. Before we begin, let me say that our guest advocate
tonight, Jack Cole, is one of Boston's top television newsmen at WBZ
television, a Westinghouse station. And now for some background on tonight's
question. President Nixon, in June of this year, labeled drug abuse as
public enemy number one. He may have been spurred by evidence of growing use
of drugs by our servicemen in Vietnam. But the fact is that drug use is an
every-day feature of metropolitan and suburban America. To meet the problem,
the Administration has moved vigorously to try to stop the flow of illegal
drugs from abroad. But the critical problem remains of what to do to prevent
the further spread of drug use here at home, and in particular what to do
about perhaps a half a million Americans who are now narcotics addicts. In
Congress, Florida's Representative Lou Frey has introduced a comprehensive
bill aimed at treating and ultimately curing narcotics addicts. It has been
offered as an amendment to the Narcotics Addicts Rehabilitation Bill of 1956
and it greatly expands the eligible categories and the conditions under
which narcotics addicts may be confined, civilly committed for treatment.
The bill does provide funds for the study of the causes and effects of
drugs, provides funds for research into non-addictive substitutes for
dangerous drugs, it would establish a drug training institute for judges and
probation officers and provide additional funds for the education of
doctors, teachers and case workers. But the cornerstone of the Frey bill is
the establishment of a national program of involuntary civil commitment of
drug addicts, simply because they are addicts, whether criminal or not. If
enacted, the Frey bill would allow an addict who has been certified to be
committed, even though he has not been charged with a crime or convicted of
a crime, to be committed for treatment on the petition of a relative or a
law enforcement officer or a health official. True procedural safeguards are
provided, mainly to assure the finding of addiction is well-founded. But
once that finding has been made, that addict can then be confined for a
period of up to six months and placed under additional supervision for a
period of up to three years. The Frey bill does make provision for the
treatment of criminal addicts as well, but tonight we will be concentrating
on those provisions of the bill which establish a program of involuntary
commitment of addicts who have never been charged with a crime or, if
charged, have not been convicted and are awaiting trial. As a further point
of clarification, it is important to understand that the very fact of being
an addict is not a crime in itself, nor constitutionally can it be made one.
And now to the cases. Mr. Rusher, why should Congress enact a national
program of involuntary civil commitment for narcotics addicts?
Most Americans do not I think need to be convinced that
drug addiction, and tonight we're talking about hard drugs not pot, is a
desperately serious problem in our country today. As Mr. Dukakis has said,
there are literally hundreds of thousands of addicts, and thanks to their
missionary work, the number is growing every year. The states and the
Federal Government are doing the best they can to stem the tide by trying to
cut off the supply from abroad by prosecuting the distributors here and by
persuading the addicts themselves to submit to treatment. The vast majority
of these desperately sick and desperately dangerous people are in no
position to help themselves. They don't want to get well. If the truth were
told, they don't want to live, they want to die in the arms of the drug that
has enslaved them. Meanwhile, to support their habit 95% of them sooner or
later turn to crime. First by selling hard drugs to each other and to other
people and then by committing burglary, robbery and other crimes. New York
and California have already done what clearly must be done passed laws
requiring narcotics addicts to submit to treatment whether they want to
submit or not. The treatment doesn't always work, but it works far, far
better than no treatment at all. I might add that it costs far, far less.
What is obviously needed, however, is a federal law that will make
commitment of addicts compulsory in all fifty states rather than in just
two. One such bill is already before Congress. I will call first upon the
man who introduced it, Congressman Lou Frey of Orlando, Florida.
Welcome to The Advocates Congressman Frey.
Congressman Frey, why is your bill necessary, who will it
Mr. Rusher, it will help two segments we
might say in our society, one the individual addict himself, who won't help
himself we know, two society. We have between 250,000 and 500,000 hard core
heroin addicts in this country. The cost in terms of property itself is well
over eight billion dollars. And you tell me what cost you put on the life of
a young person who has been destroyed by this drug. So that the costs are
many, not only to the individual but to society as a whole.
But your bill, as I understand it, proposes involuntary
commitment of addicts. Why can't this be handled by a voluntary route, why
can't we get the addicts themselves to submit to treatment?
We spent a great deal of time looking into this and I
think personally, initially, I was drawn toward this and hoped that this
would work. But it hasn't been the answer, since in the federal program
between 1935 and an act that was passed in 1966,70% of the people who went
into the voluntary programs busted out. In other words, when the going got
tough, they walked out. We know whether it's in California or throughout the
rest of this country, less than ten to fifteen per cent of the people were
in voluntary programs. Talked to many of these kids who have been busted,
said to them "Look, how can we help you, what can we do?" So many of them
said "Look, I wish you'd have got me before I did get arrested, before I got
myself in trouble. I needed the help but I couldn't get to it."
But Congressman, I know that you yourself have been
worried about the risk to the civil liberties of addicts who haven't
committed crimes. How have you protected against dangers to their civil
liberties in your bill?
Well I think one thing
we have got to understand at
first, and I think the word was misused before,
talking of confinement, we're talking of commitment. That
mean that you're going to put someone necessarily in
a rehabilitation center
behind bars. It does mean you have
the flexibility with the heroin addict to
do with him as he
has to be treated. In other words, he can go for instance
a half-way house, he can go on a parole status, on an out
he can check in. Or he can go to a medical
facility where he can be helped.
We have required in the
bill for instance, counsel, a jury trial. He have
that the treatment be done in 72 hours, including a
examination, we have tried to ---
The original diagnosis,
Is your bill then really the best way of
dealing with heroin addiction, or is there some other?
Well Mr. Rusher, I wish I knew another way. We have
certainly searched our souls for this kind of thing. What we have tried to
do is set up a broad outline of how we can handle this problem. We know that
we have to in many cases apply external motivation. These heroin addicts
have to be motivated to help themselves. Furthermore, we need the
flexibility. You can't talk in generalities about a heroin addict. Each one
is different. The young addict who for the first time has been addicted, he
should be treated differently than the person who has been three or four
times addicted. You need methadone for some, you need in-patient care for
others, but you need the flexibility on this to help the addict and at the
same time to help society.
Mr. Cole has some questions for you,
sir. And if you will bear with me for just a moment Congressman, I have a
little trouble with some of your statistics, sir. You have said, and you
have said again here tonight, in a speech before the National Society of
State Legislators just a couple of weeks ago, the number of addicts has been
estimated as being between a quarter of and a half a million. You've said
further that an addict may need $50 to $150 a day and that he thus must deal
five times that worth in goods to support his habit. Now I've done a little
simple arithmetic, sir, and averaging your figures, not the lowest nor the
highest but exactly half way between, I've come up with 375 thousand addicts
times $100 a day times five, times the number of days in a year, and that
means that sixty-eight billion, four hundred and thirty-seven million, five
hundred thousand dollars worth of goods is stolen every year to pay for
heroin. Do you really think that's the case?
It's the outside figure. I think all the figures you'll see and the figures
I've used in my report are accurate, we estimate in the congressional report
that about 8.1 billion is probably the figure as best as we can see and I
think if you'll check you'll find practically everybody is in that ball
park, either the low or the high end.
Cole; Well I
don't quite understand how we go from the arithmetic unless I have
multiplied incorrectly to only 8.1 billion, but passing on from that for a
time, you say further in the same speech that 98% of the addicts in New York
City resort to crime to support their habit. How do you know that
That was a report from the Attorney
General's office of New York City.
Yes Sir, but
how do you suppose they compiled those figures?
I wasn't in the Attorney General's office, but I do know a little more about
the Washington statistics which pretty much bear those out. That was done
basically on interviews with the police, with people in jail to break down
where the money came from to support it.
it so that virtually all of the addicts whom the law knows about are addicts
with whom the law has come in contact?
Well wouldn't that tend to support
sort of assuming one's own conclusions that therefore all addicts are
engaged in criminal activity?
No, I think there
are enough of them that we can get a good sample. There have been several
other scientific methods of breaking this out on a statistical basis but if
you've read these reports, which I assume you have, you'll find that it
Congressman, let's go to the matter
of principle behind this bill. You are a distinguished lawyer sir, and I
want to quote to you something that John Stuart Mill said. He said, "The
only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of
a civilized community against his will is to prevent harm to others. His own
good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." Would you agree
Well I suppose — not necessarily,
what about the law against suicide?
suppose that Mr. Mill, for our purposes would disagree that there ought to
be a law against suicide, at least that it ought not to be a capital
Frey; My answer obviously is that the law
today doesn't follow exactly what Mr. Mill does, including the Supreme
Well would you agree to this extent that
we ought to be very careful about instances in which we lock people away for
their own good.
Yes, you're talking again about
locking them away. You
seem to be hung up on this thing. We're not
talking about locking them away in this bill, but certainly
should and I think that's one of the reasons
Aren't you going to confine them, Congressman?
Please let me answer my question.
That's why I approached this very
cautiously and over a period of time to come to this thing and we're dealing
with a situation where not only is somebody committing suicide, you know,
but they've got a ring or a string around about eight other guys going over
the bridge with them, and I am very cautious but I think this is one of the
greatest problems in our country and, as I said, I don't see the
alternative, I don't see any other way to handle it.
Congressman, would you agree in principle that if we
could identify by statistics a segment of the population who are more likely
than any other segment to commit crimes against persons, against property,
we ought to lock those people away for a period of, shall we call it "pre
correction" and then let them out?
No. Is that
a short enough answer?
Isn't that what we're
doing here sir?
No, it isn't what we're doing
here. We've got an entirely different situation here that we're dealing
with. We're dealing with a two-pronged thing as I said, the individual as an
addict who can't help himself, who is killing himself, whose life span is
shortened to about 29 years for instance in New York, and a person himself
who is just in essence hurting people in society.
Gentlemen, we have a basic difference of opinion here, Congressman Frey,
thank you very much indeed.
Now let us hear directly from a person who has suffered from heroin
addiction himself, Mr. Jimmy Germano.
to The Advocates Mr. Germano.
Mr. Germano was
for nine years a heroin addict and having beaten the habit he has founded
and become executive director of Marathon House and is a prominent fighter
in the field of addiction. Mr. Germano, why do you favor involuntary
Well, for two reasons. One, my own
personal experience, nine years of using drugs and experience in thirty-four
You tried thirty-four
at the point in my life when I wound up in court and was pretty much
pressured into a program, this was the turning point in my life. And two,
because of the programs I have been affiliated with for the last eight
years, the drug treatment programs. It seems that the people who apply
themselves and who do well in the programs and who are considered successes
are the people who have to be there.
involuntarily committed in effect to Marathon House. And that is done how?
How does some person come to be in these days involuntarily committed to one
of your programs?
Well, primarily, about 88% of
the people in our program come through some kind of court action, whether it
be a parole stipulation, probation stipulation or whatever. Then some people
are involuntarily committed not through a court process but through some
other kind of external pressure that to them is very important.
It always takes some external pressure, right. Tell me
what, just in terms of the cost to you, so we can compare that perhaps to
the cost to society. How much did the heroin habit cost you and how did you
pay for it?
Well, at the peak of my career I
was spending about $150 a day and I was a crook.
$150 a day. It didn't always amount to that?
No, it averaged out a lot lower.
that's the explanation that so puzzled Mr. Cole. We were talking about
maximum figures and what might be called an average figure which was still
very high, and you paid for that how?
By being a thief. Tell me, what about
the contention which I suspect you may hear from some of Mr. Cole's
witnesses that the only way to kick a drug habit is the voluntary way. There
is no other way that it's really going to work?
Well I think that's a lot of crap actually. I think it's a nice liberal
point of view and you can be really popular if you want to expound that
particular point of view, but I think if you check into, any of the
successful programs that operate around the country, you'll find that any
clinician is apt to say that the type of people who do well in that program
are the people who have to be there for one reason or another. That doesn't
mean mental health reasons. I agree that in the long run it takes a certain
self interest, the person's own interest in being healthy, that will
accomplish his rehabilitate But initially, to keep him in there exposed to
the program for the prescribed length of time there has to be something
outside of him keeping him there.
Mr. Cole, on
that earthy note, would you like to ask him some questions?
Thank you sir. Mr. Germano, you are the executive
director and a founding spirit really behind Marathon House, very then
qualified to tell us exactly how it operates. Would you very briefly do that
Well Marathon House basically is a self
therapeutic community is a technical term
Self help. Are there locks on the doors of Marathon
No, there aren't,
So isn't it so that if a man wants to leave Marathon
House he can do so?
What happens to him then, in the case of an involuntary
commitment to Marathon House?
We will notify
the court and the chances are he'll be picked up on a capias, which is a
warrant for his arrest, and he will be advised to return to the program more
often than not, if not he may be incarcerated if he is prosecuted as a
criminal, or any other situation that might exist. It's hard to say, you're
dealing with a lot of different individuals.
Suppose that-some of the money in Congressman Frey's bill could come your
way to Marathon House, if you would agree to put locks on the doors in
Marathon House and accept in there persons who had been involuntarily
committed, although not guilty of any crime, would you do that?
No, we wouldn't, because we have found that it takes a
certain kind of physical setting to rehabilitate people. The program, the
buildings have to be conducive to a family like atmosphere, a certain kind
of intimacy. Institutions are not what we're looking for, I'm not certain
what the outline of Congressman Frey's bill is but it seems to me in our
earlier conversations, what we are talking about are pretty much community
based programs like Marathon House the way it is now.
Well, we're talking about commitment which I take it
implies at least the threat of if one does not keep up with the program in
Marathon House then one goes to a place such as Lexington or Fort Worth or
places like that. Let's carry that a little bit further and suppose that an
individual has taken your program and has flunked it as it were and then
gets thrown into Lexington or Fort Worth. What would you say his chances of
Well, a lot less than they
would be at Marathon House that's for sure, but of course I'm biased. I
think that it may be a possibility for him to gain something out of a
program that Lexington or Forth Worth may offer, especially if he believes
that he has to.
But the essence again of your
program is those two words.
Thank you Mr. Germano Mr. Rusher.
on this part of my case, let me simply stress again the point. Mr. Cole is
under a profound misapprehension that commitment, involuntary commitment
necessarily means somehow confinement, jails, locks, bars. It doesn't. It
means that the addict is required to participate in a particular program of
treatment. But he will not be confined unless it has been determined not
only after diagnosis; but after judicial procedures, after the right to
counsel, after a jury trial if he insists upon it, he will not be
Thank you Mr. Rusher. We'll be back
to you for your rebuttal case, but now let's hear from Mr. Cole and why
Congress should not enact a national involuntary civil commitment program
for drug addicts.
Well, I hardly feel the need
to say very much after Mr. Rusher has made my case for me. He just said that
after a trial to determine that an individual is an addict he will in fact
be confined. Now, to call confinement, which does have a connotation about
it of bars and locks, commitment, it seems to me is merely to add insult to
the injury. I mean, the language means what the language means. The
proponents of this measure raise a specter of a quarter a million or more
addicts roaming our streets. Now, because law enforcement agencies come into
contact with only criminal addicts, it doesn't mean that all addicts are
necessarily engaged in some form of criminal activity. Addiction itself is
not a crime, even Mr. Frey's bill admits that. He talks about involuntary
commitment of non-criminal addicts. Now he wants to lock them up but he says
that once they are locked up they will be treated. Well, we must of course
look at the past to determine what happens when one is treated in a locked
up situation. The statistics from Lexington, from Fort Worth, from all the
other narcotics institutions which have locks as their basic premise, are
not only not very satisfying, they are profoundly disturbing, as we shall
hear first of all from my first witness, Mr. Neil Chayet.
Welcome to The Advocates Mr. Chayet.
Mr. Chayet, you have written widely on this subject, you
were a delegate at the United Nations Psychotropic Drug Conference, you are
on the staff of Mass General dealing in this general area. Let's talk first
though with you as a lawyer, as a former Professor of Law, a bit of legal
philosophy. Why do we have a criminal law, why do we lock people
We lock people up Jack essentially because
they have committed an act which is antisocial and we know is harmful to
society in which there is a clearly defined code which says they must not
commit that act. We do so after we have made sure that they have committed
it, beyond a reasonable doubt, and give them as many procedural safeguards
as we can. That is basically how we function with the criminal
Well, there may be an area of unclarity
with reference to a lot of people who don't understand the intricacies of
the law and don't understand that addiction itself is not a crime although a
number of things that are necessary to become an addict, possession of
heroin, are crimes. How do you explain that sir?
Well addiction is really a state of being and for time immemorial
really, our system does not punish and must not punish people for what they
are but for what they do, and it is the acts which these people commit which
we are most concerned about and addiction is much more a state of being, a
status rather than an act. I think we have to always remember this as we
discuss this issue tonight.
Is there a high
correlation between addiction to narcotics and crime?
I know of no evidence which shows that there is a high
correlation. I know of a great deal of speculation, I know of a great deal
of supposition, but I know of no evidence that shows that there is a
definite relationship between crime and the addict.
Well, let's assume that that speculation is valid just
for the sake of this discussion, and let's go a little bit beyond it. Do you
think, as a lawyer, that a program under which we could statistically be
relatively more sure than not that an identifiable segment of the population
was likely to commit crimes against property and against persons, if we
could show that, would it be a good idea for us to round all those people up
in advance and put them away for a period of, well, as I asked Congressman
Frey, pre-correction. Would that be good?
think this would lead to a very dangerous situation. That if you isolated a
certain group of people and said that such a group of people was liable to
commit crimes and treated them as a wholesale group, and I think that you
would lead to a great many inconsistencies and a great many dangers to what
is really most fundamental, and that is our right to liberty, and that is a
thing which we have always valued and I hope still value in this country
regardless of crazes and so forth. I think it's the right to liberty which
is most important and I think that unless we can be sure that an individual
is going to commit an act the nature of which is so harmful and he is so
imminently dangerous to society, I think we must not get involved in
preventative detention of any kind or in compulsory confinement or treatment
or altering a person's way of life. This is most important.
Mr. Chayet, one final question sir. Do you see any
distinction between that kind of procedure and a procedure in which we
determine for example that all persons with red hair or blue eyes or black
skin were more prone to certain kinds of crimes and so we lock them up
because of that statistical probability? Is there a distinction
I see very little distinction, Mr.
Mr. Chayet, thank you very
Mr. Chayet, before Mr. Rusher comes on,
I'd like to ask you a question. It seems to me that the line is pretty thin
here. Since an addict by definition has to possess the stuff in order to put
it into him, hasn't he almost of a certainty committed a crime in order to
reach the condition that you and Mr. Cote have been discussing?
Well we have to be very careful Mr. Dukakis to realize
that, I think we are laying a false premise. I mean we could say that an
individual who is addicted to coffee, if we made coffee illegal, then we'd
have a lot of very similar problems of people who have come into a situation
because of the making of a given substance illegal. I think this is
something that we have to keep in mind that we have created a situation and
we continually come back not against the society which has spawned this, but
more and more against the individual. We can stamp it out if we commit the
individual. We have to change the individual, change his life, lock him up,
don't lock him up, it doesn't matter. The key here is that this is a
societal problem which has to be dealt with in a way which looks outwards at
society not just inwards at the one unfortunate person, the
All right, let's let Mr. Rusher ask you
a few questions.
Mr. Chayet, I must learn
never to be surprised at testimony. You know of no correlation between crime
and heroin addiction?
I said, Mr. Rusher, that
I know of many suppositions, I know of many speculations, I know of no
definitive study which has shown a correlation between crime and
Definitive study. You said I think,
actually the transcript would say that you knew of no evidence. You have
heard Mr. Germano's testimony, that he himself supported his habit by
stealing. Now that is some evidence, is it not?
It is some evidence, when I spoke
it an unusual case in your opinion?
say Mr. Rusher, that there is ground for speculation that an individual may
steal if he is an addict. I'm saying that there is evidence that persons
have stolen or there is tremendous relationship between crime, but I will
concede to you at this point that an individual may steal if he has to
support a $100-a-day habit. And now I'll let you take me on the next
That is awfully big of you! Tell me,
would you consider, as Mr. Cole does, that involuntary commitment equals
I would consider that confinement
is one portion, one factor of the situation.
Precisely. But it doesn't by any means necessarily get involved in a case of
involuntary commitment. You can have an involuntary commitment without any
locks, without any bars, without any prohibition against the person's travel
You could, but you
You could or you do?
complete my answer sir? Thank you. You could but you always do have the
specter of that ultimate weapon and that is of confinement, and you are also
interfering to a tremendous degree with the lifestyle and with the life of
an individual. I think we have to keep that in mind.
The present New York and California law, as you are
aware, does provide for involuntary commitment.
I am aware of that.
Would you repeal those
And turn all of those people now involuntarily committed
unless they have actually committed a crime, loose?
You say turn loose, so you are implying that all of them
are under confinement Mr. Rusher?
about involuntary commitment.
Go ahead. And now that it's clarified why don't you
answer the question.
The answer is yes Mr.
Rusher. I would turn them
all loose - I would turn them loose unless I
Prove that they had committed a
That's right Mr. Rusher.
Now you have not in point of fact, however, aside from
your testimony tonight, always opposed all involuntary commitment of
non-criminal addicts have you?
I have always
opposed commitment of non-criminal addicts for the reason of addiction
Yes, but with other things involved you
are perfectly willing to have involuntary commitment aren't you?
What do you mean by "other things involved?"
I am about to quote your own testimony before the House
Commerce Committee in July of this year. You said that the "only people we
should hospitalize inpatient that is to say, as Mr. Cole would say, behind
bars and with locks and things like that, against their will, that is take
away their liberty. The only ones we should do this to are "those who are in
imminent physical danger of either killing themselves or someone else, or
destroying property, or that type of test." You provided this, I'm reading
the transcript of your
That is quite accurate
and quite different from everything I've said tonight.
It certainly is and I was wondering
No, I would like to respond to that. It would be a
similar criterion for the commitment of a mentally ill individual. That is
an individual who is about to commit, and there is a high predictability
that he is going to commit an act which is extremely dangerous to himself or
society. That is very different than making just the status or being an
addict, that is extremely different from that situation which is
contemplated by the Frey bill.
If I tell you
that in New York State where I come from the life expectancy of a heroin
addict is 29 years, would you consider that heroin addiction puts him in
danger of destroying his life?
I would not
call that the kind of imminent destruction which I have in mind.
Would you say that there is danger to the property of
other people from such a person trying to afford his habit?
I would call the predictability of that danger very
difficult to assume indeed and I think that we cannot make that leap that
because the general statistics of life expectancy or the general
supposition, the speculation, regarding stealing of property, I don't think
we can translate that into saying that because an individual is an addict
that we can then hospitalize him against his will.
Even though the life expectancy is 29?
Even though the life expectancy is 29.
And on that note gentlemen, we are going to have to end
your testimony. Thank you very much Mr. Chayet for coming, Mr.
And I must thank my distinguished
colleague Mr. Rusher for pointing out to me that Mr. Chayet is indeed a very
distinguished prodigal son and we're happy to have him back on the side of
justice. My next witness is Mr. Pleasant Harris who was, for some seventeen
years, a heroin addict and who now is on methadone maintenance and who now
is helping others by methadone maintenance and other treatments to get off
Welcome to The Advocates Mr.
Mr. Harris, why and how did you get
Well I was able to come off
through the use of methadone maintenance with the Beth Israel Program in New
Why though, did you do
I found that there was a terrific need I
had to change the way that I had been living and this came through to me
through the kinds of things that were happening with my family, with my
employment, and not being able to really relate to the every day situations
Would you say that this sort of
happened within you?
It took a period of
seventeen years for it to happen, but it did happen, yes.
Would you agree with Jimmy Germano that self help is
really the essence of how you came around?
Well things were a little different you know, when I first started using
drugs. You didn't have the different kinds of programs that you have now.
But I don't think it would have been any different if I had have been forced
into some kind of treatment facility when I wasn't ready to be there. A
person must be ready themselves as far as recognizing what their needs are
and trying to deal with it. Now I think that we should try to set up more
varied programs so that this individual would have a choice of which program
he wishes to go into.
You've heard that
Congressman Frey wishes to commit, which includes at the very least the
threat of confinement and very probably actual confinement, addicts to a
place and treat them there. Do you think that would work?
Well it's rather hard to realize that the Government
would spend over a hundred million dollars to place a person or to confine
someone involuntarily with there not being locked doors. He can walk in and
walk right out and most likely he will do so. We have found that in New York
State the involuntary commitment program has really not succeeded to the
expectations of the people who first planned it.
It has succeeded to some degree has it not? I mean there are
involuntarily committed addicts for whom that has been of some
You will find a minimal number who have
come through this form of treatment, you might say were forced into this
kind of treatment, that it did help. But it doesn't necessarily mean that
the money spent, that what was received for the money spent, would more or
less recommend that further use of that particular treatment
Mr. Harris, most of us are just
concerned with this tonight, but for you it's a way of life so let me ask
you sir, if you had the kind of money that is written into Congressman
Frey's bill, hundreds of millions of dollars, to spend on the solution of
the drug addiction problem in the United States, how would you spend
Make it a quick answer.
One of the things I would try to do first is to set up
outside evaluating agencies to more or less try to determine what the
programs are doing and how they are intending to do it. This I think would
form a basis really for more funds being given to the more successful kinds
of programs, but I also would think that these monies would also be better
spent to be used in the educational aspect and also to improve, to a great
extent, on the now ongoing programs, such as methadone maintenance, that are
Let me break in at this
point and Mr. Rusher will pick it up from here.
Mr. Harris, back to this, I think rather important point, in your
experience is heroin addiction related to crime'?
You might say this, that those who are addicted do find that crime does
allow them to maintain their habit, but on the other hand, there are many
addicts, and we have as many different types of addicts as you have
non-addicts, who do not resort to crime, especially violent
I'm talking about all kinds of crime,
prostitution, passing bad checks, the whole bit. How many addicts would you
say resort at one time or another, what percentage, to support their
It's rather difficult to say because
then you have to break down exactly what you mean by certain
I don't think so, I say resort to any
type of crime. Would you give me just an educated guess - you've had much
more experience with this than I.
I would say
Certainly, and the fact is I think
we'll find the figure, at least from the studies we've had, is much higher
yet. Isn't it a fact, I believe you did say if I understood you correctly
that either the threat of incarceration of some kind or of involuntary
commitment, depending on what particular kind of program a particular state
has, does work in certain cases, it provides an external motivation. I took
it you meant not in many cases but in some.
our society, once they expend certain funds they wish to reap benefits from
these funds, and what I'm saying is that the people who would be helped by
involuntary commitment are so few as to negate the possibility of more funds
coming into play.
Tell me this, if a heroin
addict should by some mischance commit a crime, should his prison sentence,
if he is convicted, include compulsory treatment for his addiction in your
No, because you are still stating
that the individual is being forced into some form of treatment and this has
been shown right down through the years that this form of treatment does not
And yet, and this is I guess the
essential point that Mr. Germano is making that I would like to have your
opinion on, Mr. Germano seemed to me to be saying that very frequently a
heroin addict needs to start with some external pressure, some external
inducement, some external coercion, then, when the treatment is underway, it
is possible hopefully for him to develop the desire which he may not have,
may not be able to formulate right off the bat, to help himself.
No, this is not so.
doesn't work at all?
No, because it really
goes back to understanding the addict and many people feel as if they have
the answer that the addict does not know what might be good for him due to
the fact that he has become addicted.
To a great extent yes, he does, and I
would like to see more programs being made available, let's say such as
methadone maintenance where you wouldn't have the kinds of waiting lists
that you now have for treatment, where people could be treated in a very
humane way and as fast as possible.
You are on
methadone maintenance yourself and you use it in place of heroin, is that
I don't use it in place of
You use it in any case.
I am taking a medication, yes.
And, would you stop it if you could?
I'm on the way to doing that right now.
You are stopping it now. What, why haven't you stopped
it so far?
Because there is a period of time
So there is a matter of
motivation that has to be present here?
motivation along with the change of lifestyle which brings that
Mr. Harris, I'm afraid I'll have to
break in. Thank you very much for being with us. Mr. Cole.
Thank you. I think Mr. Harris really said it all, what
we need is the kind of money the Congressman is talking about and perhaps a
great deal more for more programs of the kind he is on, the Marathon
program, many kinds of programs. And very well qualified it seems to me, to
tell us about those programs and what might be done is Doctor Matthew Dumont
who is the director of the Massachusetts Drug Rehabilitation
Welcome to The Advocates Doctor
Doctor Dumont, I think it's fair to
say that there is in the public mind a stereotype of the narcotics addict as
a violence prone criminal. I wonder if you'd comment on that sir.
Yes, it's a very unfortunate stereotype and it has got
in the way of our desperate efforts to try to do something about the
problem. There is no justification for it, in fact, there is no such thing
as the addictive personality, there is no indication that the addict is any
more prone than anybody else to violence, or indeed to criminal behaviour of
Well, what about when he injects
heroin into his person, does the drug do something to him that turns him
into some kind of a violent prone person?
Quite the reverse as a matter of fact, a person who has just shot up is
rather congenial and a comfortable man who is not at all
What about Congressman Frey's idea
of involuntary civil, if you will, commitment for narcotics addiction, why
isn't that, and I take it you don't believe it is, a good approach to the
It isn't, because while he insists on
the distinction between involuntary commitment and a locked institution, the
experience over the centuries with involuntary civil commitments of all
kinds is that they invariably lead to the locked institution. This is true
of involuntary civil commitments for mental illness. Now, there isn't a
mental hospital in the country that accepts involuntary commitments that is
not locked. It is a condition of an involuntary commitment by the nature of
the beast. Now the experience with the involuntary civil commitments for
addicts in this country with the federal centers in Fort Worth and Lexington
and in the programs in New York and California have, by broad consensus,
although you can't get any agreement among social scientists as not among
lawyers, by broad consensus is that they have been a failure.
Doctor Dumont, as director of this State's program you
are familiar I take it with the problem on a nationwide basis, ' is it not
so sir, that there are waiting lists now sometimes of up to a year and even
beyond for persons who want to get in on a voluntary basis?
There are indeed. There are waiting lists for every
program in the Commonwealth, there is a particularly long waiting list for
Mr. Germano's excellent program, and I would say that indeed the component
of Mr. Frey's bill to increase the resources available to these programs is
very precious and long sought after.
interrupt and say that perhaps after the program you and Congressman Frey
could get together and see if there isn't some money for those kind of
programs. Mr. Rusher, time now for some questions.
Doctor Dumont, I am curious to know whether you agree
with Mr. Harris that over 50% of addicts finance their habit by crime, or
whether you agree with Mr. Chayet that there is no definitive evidence of
the correlation between addiction and crime, or perhaps with both.
Well I don't know, I must say that. We have no way
knowing what the relationship between addiction and crime
is because there
is an awful lot of sloppy thinking about
what addiction is. Everybody who
uses heroin is considered
an addict and
Harris didn't have any trouble in understanding the question and he said
that over 50% of addicts support their habit by crime and I think this
figure is low on the basis of my own witnesses' testimony.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to say I don't know what
the figure is, that we have no way of knowing at this point.
Tell me, do you favor incarcerating mental
Under very special circumstances,
and then with great deliberation and conflict.
You think many too many of them are at the moment under
And how about the legalization of drugs, do you favor
I don't understand why you are asking
that, is that relevant to this issue?
it is, it rather tends to show us your habits of mind. Mr. Chayet, you will
recall, he wanted to repeal the laws of New York and California on this
subject, you want to release all but a very few of the mental patients
incarcerated, now where do you stand on the legalization of drugs?
Well, the habits of my mind might be delved more
effectively with other kinds of questions.
Suppose you leave that to me.
Mr. Rusher, I
think we can't get onto the legalization
of drugs issue, let's
Shall we treat that as a plea of the Fifth Amendment and
We'll try another program on that
All right, you approve of the Marathon
program of Mr. Germano?
Indeed, it's licensed
by my division and I support it.
And in point
of fact, you heard Mr. Germano testify that his is a de facto involuntary
I don't think that's the
word that he used and as a matter of fact we have some disagreement there -
de facto involuntary commitment.
used the words involuntary commitment.
believe he used that word, yes. In fact, it is not an involuntary
You disagree with him about the
nature of the program that he founded and of which he is the executive
Because the people committed to his
program come from my division and they are committed under a law that is
specifically and carefully a voluntary commitment law. That patient does
have the right to leave, he does have the right to take his chances with a
criminal proceeding, and frequently do, he is not involuntarily committed.
The option is there, it remains and always will remain.
So regarding it as an involuntary commitment in effect
is simply wrong?
Well, what Mr. Germano was
saying that when there is a threat of some kind of sanction if the patient
leaves his program, there is a greater motivation to stay at the outset and
those patients who stay in Marathon House longer tend to be more successful,
there is no question about that.
Dumont, in those cases, isn't the club of incarceration as a criminal really
being held over the head of these people, and in that sense isn't the
commitment really, in Marathon House, rather involuntary?
Well in fact there is a waiting list for patients
voluntarily anxious to get into that program and that's a very painful scene
in this State.
Do you admit that many addicts,
I assume that you would admit that many addicts turn to non-violent crimes.
I think that distinction has been made here, as distinguished from violent
types of crime in order to finance their habit?
Well the distinction should have been made if it
hasn't, yes, violent
crimes are unlikely
Does that in your opinion
sort of mitigate the situation?
I don't know
what you mean.
I mean is burglary good, does
No, nothing is good.
Prostitution, bum checks. Why is the fact that a crime
is committed by a heroin addict non-violent something that we must all
consider the reason for not doing anything about it?
Well I will repeat what I said. There is no good hard
evidence that there is a high correlation between addiction and non-violent
None except Mr. Harris's tonight at any
Well, Mr. Harris and I,I hope are
entitled to disagree at times.
Well, I hope
you are too and I hope you both disagree with Mr. Cole.
Mr. Rusher, I'm going to have to break in on that note.
Thank you very much Doctor Dumont. Mr. Cole.
You have heard Doctor Dumont say that there is a waiting list for persons
who are trying to get into programs which are now available for those who
want to cure themselves. You've heard Mr. Germano say, you've heard Mr.
Harris say that the essence is self help. Why don't we take the money that
Congressman Frey is talking about spending, hundreds of millions of dollars,
maybe even more, maybe billions of dollars - for that after all, by the
meanest estimates, is what this problem is costing us in this country -and
make different kinds of solutions to this problem available until we find
one. I submit however, that we will not find one by committing or
confining or incarcerating, whatever term you want to use, it means
deprivation of liberty, it means being locked up, or at the very least it
means being some place where one doesn't want necessarily to be. Thank
Thank you Mr. Cole, and now we return to
Mr. Rusher for his rebuttal argument in support of Congress's enacting a
national program of involuntary civil commitment for drug addicts.
If Mr. Cole would only listen, it doesn't even mean that
the addict need necessarily be where he doesn't want to be. This is not some
visionary future program we are talking about, a program of this type exists
in the State of California and is working very well. To that purpose, I call
as our next and final witness Mr. Roland Wood, the superintendent of the
California Rehabilitation Center.
The Advocates Mr. Wood.
Mr. Wood, we've been
messing around here. You've probably heard this business that involuntary
commitment is either confinement or unnecessary threat or a violation of a
non-violent addict's civil liberties. How does it go out in California, is
this necessarily true?
That is not true. The
California law does protect the civil rights of the individual. The due
process is protected in that he is examined within 72 hours, he must then
appear before the court and the court or a jury must find that he is an
addict and a danger to himself or to others before he is confined. This
process does eliminate some people from commitment to the
That is to say they are simply not
committed to the facility and are free to roam about without any
Well now how has this California
program really worked? Are you getting anywhere with involuntary
We certainly are. Using our
statistics for 1969 releases we find that over 40% are still in the
community at the end of one calendar year.
Free of drugs. Considering the
fact that 82% of our men are committed to us following a conviction of a
felony offense aid that only about 5% return to the institution with a new
felony commitment, I think this is an outstanding achievement.
82% were committed to you with a felony
Certainly food for thought for Mr. Chayet if he begins
to wonder about a correlation between heroin and crime. Tell me, but isn't
the cost of your program great? Are the people of California paying a lot
Our cost per individual is only $10
per day and considering the fact that it costs somewhere between $250 to
$300 to support himself by stealing, by prostitution, by writing checks
in the community to support his habit, again we feel this is a wise
investment of the ate's funds.
To spare Mr.
Cole confusion again, that isn't $250 or $300 that he has to spend on the
habit, but that he has to steal through fences in order to realize the
amount he has to spend.
Well then, and lastly sir, how essential
is the involuntary aspect? Could you do this with strictly voluntary
No, it is absolutely essential to our
program that, we've found, and we've heard from Mr. Germano and others that
addicts will not stay in a program if it's not compulsory treatment. We find
that these individuals, we must get their attention and then we can treat
them in a non-punitive setting.
Thank you very
much. Mr. Cole.
I wonder sir, if you are
familiar with the work of Professor John C. Kramer.
Yes I am, very definitely.
Would you tell me the connection with your institution.
He was formerly the director of research in our
Do you think he is a good man? Do
you think he knows what he is talking about?
think he has made some misstatements of facts and some wrong
Well, let me throw a couple at
Is he still with your program Mr.
"Since its inception" and I'm quoting from a Boston University Law
Review article with which I'm sure you are familiar sir, "the program has
been virtually indistinguishable in operation from a prison program. The
physical facilities are prison-like and the institution rules are prison
rules. Psychiatrists and psychologists employed only the most peripheral
part in the program." Would you comment sir.
That is not correct, we're somewhere between a prison and a mental hospital.
We are not a prison, although we are under the Department of Corrections and
certainly there is a great difference between our facility and its program
and a prison atmosphere.
What are some of the
The differences are that we
try to take an individual and help him to look at this problem and see what
he can do to change his behaviour so that he may live drug-free in the
community. We have eliminated all the aspects, the criminal connotations in
relation to the Robinson decision, the famous decision in the Supreme
You have eliminated all the criminality
aspects of your program, sir?
I believe so,
No locks on the doors?
There are no locks on our door, but an individual is
required to stay in our program, it is compulsory treatment, and should he
escape then he is prosecuted for escape.
Doesn't that amount to the same thing sir, or is there something I'm missing
by way of a distinction here?
in mind that these individuals, for the most part, 82% of them are felony
commitments and are then determined to be an addict and are then committed
to our institution. The balance are addicts and are required to undergo
treatment. By the Robinson decision, keeping an individual under treatment
in a therapeutic atmosphere is constitutional.
Well more power to you Mr. Wood in so far as your treatment of persons
convicted of felonies who have drug-related backgrounds. But we're not
talking about them tonight, we're talking about persons who are not
convicted nor indeed charged with any criminal activity whatever. How many
of those, in your institution, have walked out cured?
About four people out of ten will stay drug-free one
calendar year after release, and if you take a longer period of time, at
least 59% of them will be able to spend at least one full year in the
community drug-free and crime-free.
let me interject at this point. Were these people not charged with crime or
threatened with criminal proceedings before they came to you, or were they
faced with some kind of criminal proceeding?
Approximately ten to eleven percent of our individuals are in the
institution not charged with a criminal offense. They do go through the
court processes and are committed to us and after they are committed it is
no longer voluntary.
The vast majority, unless
they go with you, face jail I take it, is that correct?
The vast majority of this group would not until they did
commit a crime in order to support their habit. About 5% of this group is,
are truly volunteers. When the legislature changed the law to make a shorter
period of confinement for the truly voluntaries, we did not get a flock of
voluntaries into the program.
Mr. Wood, let's
confine our questioning now to the area of those who have succeeded in
graduating as it were from the program of involuntary civil commitment in
California. And again, quoting from Doctor Kramer's work: "We have found a
large proportion of those who succeed are not typical of the majority of the
addict population. They are individuals who have had little or no contact
with opiates, or were mainly users of opiate-containing syrup or tablets.
This suggests that the likelihood of success for those individuals for whom
the program was primarily intended, the heroin addicts, is even more remote
than the statistics suggest."
absolutely incorrect. All of our people are found to be using hard
narcotics, or they wouldn't be under the institution. The law provides that
they must be convicted, they must be adjudicated as being addicted to hard
narcotics, morphine derivatives, before they are committed to us, and that
is an absolutely incorrect statement.
involuntary commitment always work, sometimes, most of the time? How would
you characterize it?
We have followed our men
and women. Today we have two thousand in the institution and six thousand
out in the community, as previously indicated, we find that 40% of these
individuals are still in the community one year later. Some of them have to
come back to the institution for a short period of inpatient care again.
This is generally around 60 or 90 days.
that your success ratio after only one year is 40%.
So that you're locking
up 60% ---
They may have to return to the
institution for an additional period of treatment, but that does not
necessarily mean that they are a failure. You are equating return to the
institution as failure which is not correct.
Thank you very much Mr. Wood for being with us.
Despite his persistence in the rhetoric, I really do believe that Mr.
Cole has come to believe that Mr. Frey's bill is not simply a matter of
locking up all the drug addicts and heroin addicts in America. It is a much
more sophisticated, much more thoughtful and much more humane program than
that, and it will, if we pass it, if we support it, if we care, go far
toward solving, if anything can, the problem of serious drug addiction in
Thank you gentlemen, that
completes the cases and now each of our advocates has one minute in which to
summarize his case. Mr. Rusher.
conservative, I have dedicated my life to defending men's freedom, but I
have never heard the great cause of freedom more royally abused than it has
been tonight. In the name of freedom we have been told that the people whose
will has been absolutely destroyed by drugs must be allowed to go on
choosing suicide. In the name of freedom we have been told that the rest of
us must sit idly by until the fast rising tide of drug addiction has
resulted in the commission of a specific felony against us or our family or
our neighbors. Well ladies and gentlemen, that isn’t what the Government of
this country was founded upon, what its founders understood by freedom.
Either we are going to lick the drug problem, or it is going to lick us. Are
you ready to back a serious national effort to control this awful
pestilence? Or do you stand with those who, in the name of freedom, would do
nothing, or next to nothing, until another million lives are ruined forever
and crime has become so common in America that even the criminals begin to
Thank you Mr. Rusher. Mr. Cole, you
also have one minute to summarize your case.
don't think that Mr. Rusher was addressing those questions to me, but let me
answer them anyway. Yes, I am ready to undertake a serious effort. I think
we must, to solve the drug problem. But I am struck by a paradox here. The
drug addict takes drugs, it seems to me at least, in order to escape from
reality, from a world for the most part that he never made. Well, we're very
rightly concerned about that in this society, both for his benefit and for
the benefit of those who he might harm in order to raise money to support
his very expensive drug habit. No question about that. But, is the answer to
that for us to escape too? To escape into a world of unreality, a world of
pretense that there exists a medical treatment for something which we know
statistically simply does not lend itself to medical treatment? It lends
itself very much to the kind of treatment that cures alcoholism. The
individual must, from within himself, decide that he wants to change his
lifestyle. Self-help is the operative word. Voluntarism. And I submit that
all of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Congressman Frey wants to
spend can be best spent developing programs of that kind.
Thank you gentlemen. Now it's time for you at home to
act, to express your views on tonight's question. Write us: The Advocates,
Box 1971, Boston 02134. What do you think? The question on which you will be
voting: Should Congress enact a national involuntary commitment program for
drug addicts? Send us your yes or no vote on a letter or postcard. We will
tabulate your views and make them known to the White House, to members of
Congress and to other persons concerned with this issue. Every one of your
votes is important. So remember that address: The Advocates, Box 1971,
Boston 02134. Thanks to our advocates and to our witnesses. I'm Michael
Dukakis. Please join us again at the same time next week. Thank you and
The Advocates as a program takes no
position on the issue debated tonight. Our job is to help you understand
both sides more clearly. This program was recorded.