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Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate Transmitting a Report on the Denial of Federal Benefits for Certain Drug Offenders

August 30, 1989

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

The attached report sets forth a plan for the immediate implementation of section 5301 of P.L. 100 - 690, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, pertaining to denial of Federal benefits for certain drug offenders. This report is submitted pursuant to the requirements of section 5301(g) of P.L. 100 - 690.

Effective for convictions occurring after September 1, 1989, section 5301 provides that an individual convicted of a State or Federal drug trafficking or possession offense may be denied Federal benefits for certain statutorily specified periods of time. Except for those individuals convicted of a third drug trafficking offense (in which case the exclusion from receipt of Federal benefits is both permanent and statutorily prescribed), the decision to deny any, some, or all of an individual's benefits in these instances rests solely with the sentencing judge. Certain benefits, such as welfare or disability payments, are statutorily exempted from coverage under this provision. In addition, benefits for government witnesses are exempted from suspension or denial, and benefits may not be denied an individual convicted of a drug possession offense who has been determined to be a drug addict and who has agreed to undergo long-term treatment or who may otherwise have been rehabilitated. In the case of an individual convicted of a drug trafficking offense, the range of benefits to be denied may not include those benefits related to long-term treatment. Section 5301 also requires that benefit eligibility be restored if an individual fulfills certain conditions relating to drug treatment and rehabilitation.

To implement section 5301, I am asking the United States Sentencing Commission to assist in the initial dissemination of information to the Federal courts, and the Department of Justice to assume the role of "information clearinghouse" for the Federal courts. Principal responsibility will rest with the Sentencing Commission to disseminate all necessary information concerning section 5301 to Article III Judges and other appropriate Federal personnel. An appropriate component in the Department of Justice will collect all incoming information generated by the courts regarding those individuals to whom benefits are to be denied, and will forward such information to the General Services Administration (GSA) for inclusion on that agency's publication of "Parties Excluded from Federal Procurement or Nonprocurement Programs" -- more commonly known as the "Debarment List."

I am directing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to coordinate the participation of the State courts in this program. The DOJ will request the assistance of the chief judicial officer of each State in directing that State's courts to collect and transmit to DOJ the necessary data on State court denials. The DOJ will also serve as the repository or "clearinghouse" of information for State courts and will forward such data to GSA for inclusion on the Debarment List.

Appropriate and uniform documents designed to serve as judicial notices of denial or suspension of benefits shall be developed. Information collected on these forms will be sent on a regular basis by the DOJ "clearinghouse" to GSA and will be incorporated by GSA into the Debarment List. At present, the Debarment List contains approximately 6,500 entries, consisting of those parties excluded throughout the United States Government from receiving Federal contracts or federally approved subcontracts and from certain Federal benefits or other assistance. It is printed and distributed monthly to approximately 17,400 users, both in the Government as well as in the private sector. Under this proposal, the burden will rest with each agency to consult the Debarment List to ensure compliance with the provisions of the statute.

I understand that the statute permits a judge the discretion to deny all Federal benefits for a specified period of time (with the exclusion of those benefits exempted by statute from coverage under this provision). Utilizing the GSA Debarment List is the most efficient mechanism to implement such blanket suspensions, due to the thousands of different benefits -- including grants, guaranteed loans, contracts, and professional and commercial licenses -- that could be denied pursuant to section 5301. Additionally, an applicant for Federal benefits is required to certify that he/she is not subject to a judicial order that would bar their participation in Federal benefits.

The attached proposal is designed to be implemented September 1, 1989, or as soon thereafter as appropriate informational materials are distributed to the Federal and State judiciary and suitable denial forms developed. In order to avoid any potential problems under the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution, the statute shall be applied to convictions occurring after September 1, 1989, that arise from offenses occurring on or after November 18, 1988. November 18, 1988, is the date of enactment of P.L. 100 - 690. Finally, I am directing the Office of National Drug Control Policy to monitor implementation of this proposal, and to determine if additional changes or modifications are required after 6 months to carry out the legislative intent effectively.


George Bush

Note: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Dan Quayle, President of the Senate.

George Bush, Letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate Transmitting a Report on the Denial of Federal Benefits for Certain Drug Offenders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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