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Bush Dodges Questions On Drug Use, Prison Population in Texas Continues to Grow

September 02, 1999

The 100th person to be executed in Texas since George W. Bush became governor died last night at 6pm in the Walls Unit of Huntsville. Raymond Jones said he had no last words before he was injected with a lethal combination of drugs. Bush, who has capitalized politically on his "tough on crime" stance, has broken all records for executions under a governor in the history of the United States.

Meanwhile, as his war chest reaches the $50 million mark, questions about his possible past drug use continue to follow the Texas governor and presidential candidate. Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson recently added his voice to that of others calling for a straight answer from Bush, saying that "the laws against illicit narcotics is public policy that he enforces. You cannot enforce a law that you don’t adhere to."

Bush has presided over a growing prison population in Texas, in part due to legislation already in place when he became governor, and in part because he has continued to expand these policies. Many of those being imprisoned in Texas have been convicted of drug offenses. Under his watch, there has been a steady rise in the incarceration of both adults and juveniles. A Bush law lowered the age that a juvenile can be tried and imprisoned as an adult to 14.

On the question of whether he ever used cocaine or any other illegal drug, Bush gave a limited answer last week, saying that he had not used any since at least 1974, the year he turned 28.

In a recent interview with a New Hampshire television station, Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush, said this week that she and her husband never asked their son if he has used cocaine. She said: "We had no need to."

While Bush continues to insist that he won’t buckle to what he calls "politics of personal destruction" by the press and by his political foes, the pressure for the complete truth grows even from Republicans. Conservative William Bennett recently recalled that when he first met Bush after his father, then-President Bush, had made Bennett the nation’s anti-drug czar, the younger Bush’s advice at the time was: "Kick butt." But Bennett recently wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal headlined: "Answer the Question."


  • Eric Sterling, President of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. He is also the former Counsel of the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime. He wrote the Mandatory Minimum Sentencing legislation.
  • Adam Smith, Director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network, an internet-based drug reform organization.
  • Shawn Heller, President of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. He is a student at George Washington University.

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