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UNITED STATES v. TURNER
February 25, 1972
UNITED STATES of America
Larry R. TURNER
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY
This case is before the Court pursuant to the defendant's Motion for a Civil Commitment in Lieu of Prosecution under Title I of the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act (NARA), 28 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq. (1970). Since the defendant is charged with an unarmed street robbery, the government urges denial of the defendant's motion because Congress has specifically excluded persons charged with crimes of violence from the benefits of Title I of NARA. The government contends that the defendant is ineligible for treatment under the Act, since an unarmed street robbery is by definition a crime of violence under NARA.
The defendant counters this position by arguing that he is a drug addict who would benefit from the treatment and counseling stemming from a commitment under Title I of NARA. Furthermore, the defendant contends that Title I of NARA, 28 U.S.C. § 2901 et seq. (1970), is unconstitutional on its face and as applied to the facts herein.
The Court has had the opportunity to carefully examine the defendant's background, and it believes that a brief summary is appropriate at this point. The evidence shows that the defendant is a twenty-two year old young man who was born with a twin brother on March 23, 1949, in Emporia, Virginia. The defendant and his brother were reared primarily by their grandmother until 1964, when they came to Washington to live with their mother, step-father and an older brother. The defendant dropped out of school sometime between the sixth and eighth grades in order to go to work. Eventually, the defendant, due to a lack of intellect, experience and strength of personality, became involved with an undesirable group of friends. This led to a juvenile record (primarily in the form of unauthorized use of automobile charges) and later a drug-oriented life style. In 1970 the defendant was convicted as an adult for petit larceny, and in 1971 he was convicted for a violation of the Uniform Narcotics Act.
The evidence herein is also undisputed as to the following with respect to the defendant:
(1) To date he has received no meaningful and effective treatment for his drug addiction.
(2) At present, medical authorities state that the defendant's drug addiction supersedes in importance his other problems -- personal and psychological.
(3) The recent history of the accused suggests that he cannot benefit from a community-based narcotic treatment program.
(4) Medical authorities state that the defendant can be helped in a controlled institutional setting which is designed for the treatment of addicts both with regard to their drug addiction and the underlying factors influencing their dependence on drugs.
(5) There are currently no correctional or other appropriate facilities in the District of Columbia available to meet the needs of the defendant and hundreds like him. However, the NARA facility at Lexington, Kentucky, is available for individuals who have the same problem.
(6) The defendant is not a hardened criminal in the classical sense, but a somewhat impoverished individual who is not in control of the events of his life, and who needs assistance in understanding himself in order to come to terms with the factors that have led him down the path of drugs and criminal activity.
The defendant argues and the evidence supports the conclusion that incarceration in District of Columbia or regular penal facilities will do nothing to solve his problem of drug addiction or his underlying problems. The Court fully agrees with the defendant on this issue. As indicated earlier in this opinion, the defendant has already been incarcerated for both juvenile and adult offenses, but at no time has he received extensive treatment for his narcotics addiction. Should the defendant be convicted for the instant offense, he will still receive no help with respect to his addiction to drugs, since he would not be eligible for a commitment under Title II of NARA, 18 U.S.C. § 4251 et seq. (1970), since the same exclusion for crimes of violence is present in that title as is present in Title I.
The Court believes that it must state quite frankly that it is very troubled by the defendant's dilemma. It is shameful that our laws and society will not permit the defendant this opportunity of evaluation and therapeutic and psychological treatment under tightly controlled supervision. Moreover, the Congress and our society have become more aware of how to deal with drug addicts than was the case in 1966 when NARA was enacted. The facts and evidence here demonstrate conclusively that ...
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