Drug Czar focuses on treatment, drug courts
(CNN) -- As President Obama and Mexican President Felipe Calderon talk tough about cracking down on the deadly drug war, the United States is changing tactics in the battle against illegal narcotics at home.
The man Obama picked to be the new "drug czar," Gil Kerlikowske, has made it clear that the United States is going to do a better job of treating addicts to try to reduce the demand for narcotics.
Kerlikowske, 59, is a military veteran with 36 years of law enforcement experience. The drug czar oversees an agency that sets the country's drug-control strategy.
The White House and Congress want to see more drug courts, and increased funding for the program 250 percent in the spending bill signed in March.
It's a campaign pledge that the Obama administration thinks will give nonviolent offenders "a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior," according to the White House Web site.
Judge Paul Gluchowski, who works with the Prince William County Juvenile Drug Court in Virginia, dismissed the notion that a drug treatment program is the easy way out.
If anyone thinks that, he said he'd tell them they should "come and talk to some of the participants. A lot of them probably wish they never agreed to undergo drug court. And a lot of them have given up because it's too hard."
Vice President Joe Biden stressed the importance of drug courts and prisoner re-entry programs when he announced Kerlikowske's position in March, saying they "can serve as the light at the end of the tunnel, of a very long, long dark tunnel, for those who are stuck in the cycle of drug addiction and incarceration."
Kerlikowske said he was committed to tackling the nation's drug problem, but noted that it would take a "coordinated and multifaceted effort."