Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Another Drug Warrior -- Did he or didn't he?

In May 1995, Atlanta Mayor Campbell hosted an American Cities Against Drugs conference.
Here are my remarks at that time.

More recently, did he use controlled substances illegally? Did he have a substance misuse problem?

Or was he, once again, scamming the system -- this time in order to use valuable and scarce in-prison treatment resources to avoid some months of imprisonment?

The New York Times
March 5, 2008

Ex-Mayor of Atlanta Enrolled in Prison Drug Program After Denial of a Problem


ATLANTA -- The federal Bureau of Prisons allowed Bill Campbell, the former mayor of Atlanta now serving time for tax evasion, to shorten his sentence by enrolling in a drug treatment program just a few months after he told a federal judge that he had no substance abuse problems.

Mr. Campbell, originally sentenced to serve 30 months in prison and get out in February 2009, has completed the program and since December has been in a halfway house where he has a job and is eligible to go home on weekends, prison officials said. Completion of the residential treatment program allows up to a year to be deducted from an inmate’s sentence, and permits early transfer to a halfway house.

Mr. Campbell’s projected release date is in June, more than seven months short of his original sentence. About half of the reduction is because of good behavior in prison; the rest is because of his participation in the rehabilitation program.

But after Mr. Campbell’s conviction in 2006, his own lawyers argued in a sentencing memorandum that he should serve no prison time because of his clean record.

“Mr. Campbell is a well-educated man, with no health or substance abuse problems,” his lawyers wrote in the memorandum to the judge before sentencing.

He had no need of what they called the prison system’s “thinly spread” resources, they wrote. There is a waiting list for the drug treatment program.

Prison officials said inmates must offer documentation of prior substance abuse to enter the treatment program, but for privacy reasons they said they could not disclose whether Mr. Campbell submitted such proof.

The lawyers’ sentencing memorandum that cited Mr. Campbell’s sobriety, along with other court papers, was not reviewed when determining his eligibility for treatment, said Felicia Ponce, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

“We wouldn’t look at any evidence,” Ms. Ponce said. “We would look at the presentencing investigation report.”

The presentencing investigation report is written by a probation officer and is not a public document. But major discrepancies between that report and the defense sentencing memorandum are highly unusual, legal experts said.

The investigation report summarizes the defendant’s role in the crime, community ties, physical condition, substance abuse history and other details. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers review a draft of the report before it is submitted to the judge.

If there is no mention of a drug or alcohol problem in the presentencing report, inmates who want treatment must submit documentation of an abuse history from a doctor, treatment facility, psychologist or other “legitimate verifiable outside source,” Ms. Ponce said.

Mr. Campbell’s chief lawyer did not return phone calls requesting comment. The former mayor’s sentence reduction was first reported in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mr. Campbell is no stranger to questionable documentation. At his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that many of his living expenses were paid with cash, rather than his salary.

Later they released a letter provided by the defense, purporting to have been written to Mr. Campbell by his mother before her death and claiming that she had provided the cash. The letter veered from legalese (“I, June Kay Campbell, have given my son thousands of dollars in cash gifts”) to sentiment (“It was done just between the two of us and I wanted you to have it, although you did not ever want it and always helped others”).

Gabe Pascarella, an Atlanta businessman who testified at the trial, said he was surprised to hear that Mr. Campbell, a close associate for two decades, had undergone substance abuse treatment.

“I was never, ever aware of any substance abuse problem he had with alcohol or anything else,” Mr. Pascarella said.

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1 comment:

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