tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera October 21, 2015 10:30pm-11:01pm EDT
dirty work? >> everything that's happening here is illegal. >> i'm ali velshi. "on target" tonight. the billionaire cps bold move. i''s bold move.i'm talking aboud branson. america's approach to illicit drug use has softened over the years. distinction between medical and recreational use and they've
legalized the use of small amounts of marijuana. federal law bans it but since most drug progressions are crilzed at thcriminalized at th. in canada local jurisdictions have experimented with decriminalizcriminalizing marijt the new president promises to make legal pot the law of the land. drug use is considered a public health issue not a crime and since 2001, portugal has not only decriminalized marijuana but everything from heroin to cocaine, too. so someone is found with less than a ten-day supply of any illicit drug that person goes before a three member panel, lawyer, doctor, social worker, they can recommend treatment for addiction, a small fine or more
often than not nothing at all. decriminalization is a topic that has been championed by richard branson who foind virgid virgin group. a being decriminalizing drug use for hooums consumptio human conn english, those who want to decriminalize, the odc doesn't deny what the draft says, it just denies that it spells out the official policy of the agency. in just a moment i'll speak with richard branson. but decriminalizing at any time onlcriminalizing is not theonly.
sending an addict directly to a social worker and not to central booking. some evidence suggests these programs are helping communities save money and break the cycle of crime. >> i was homeless because of my addiction. i was strung out on heroin and i also smoked crack. my day-to-day life would just be going to either get drugs or going to steal something from the store so i could sell it so i could get drugs. i also did prostitution. all that matter was feeding my addiction. >> when 34-year-old misty moved from washington state in 2003 this was not the life she had envisioned for herself. after years of fighting a losing battle with drugs misty had hit rock bottom.
>> my drug use was so out of control, i had spun out of control. >> one fateful night she was rescued there on the streets. >> i went to the track, where we go and meet dates and then i got picked up by an undercover. >> misty was hauled into a seattle police station where she anticipated yet another arrest but this time her experience would be drastically different. >> i asked to speak to a sergeant. because at this point in my addiction i was so tired of being out there. and asked him if there was any way that i could please be released so i could get on methadone and he told me about this program called the lead program. >> lead stands for law enforcement assisted diversion. it was launched in a pilot project in 2011 funded with $4 million in private donations.
lead gives officers a pivotal choice, to either arrest a nonviolent law breaker or put them in contact with a lead counselor to help get mental health care, food and counseling. chris cates has been counseling misty since 2012. >> i put her in a motel just to get her off the streets. that is where we developed rapport because that was where i could contact her, bring her groceries. >> she was quite challenging. >> we set an appointment to go get hamburgers. she didn't show up. things were -- she was pretty much into her addiction. >> the first few months were pretty hard. >> one of the aspects of lead is
addicts don't need to get off of drugs to stay in the program. >> i have addicts that are still in active use, but they get support. >> appears to get law breakers a get out of jail free card. >> seattle police officer vick may said, when the project was first launched, he had his doubts. >> i was a skeptic. that we're putting individuals that should be going to jail, in a program, and their drug case disappearing. i thought, how are they going to do that? >> and some of you may be sitting there saying, i'm just not buying into it. >> santa fe new mexico, police officer, when his country became the second in the country to
implement lead last year, he knew it wouldn't be easy to change long established norms. >> i want things that are going to reduce crime in santa fe. >> like shoferlg sand in the she ocean. >> keeping low level offenders out of jail is actually a way to deter future crimes. >> as i was moving into property crimes there was an absolute direct correlation with heroin users and those being arrested. every single person that we arrested for aproperty crime wae was a heroin addict. >> new mexico has become one of the epicenters of heroin addiction. it sees double the national rate of overdose deaths. >> people will do anything to get high. so how does jail scare somebody like that?
>> i just implore you guys to divert these people into treatment. and you'll see the results. >> i think it sounds good but i also think there could be a lot of default to it. people want to be referred the lead just to get out of something. >> i go into it expecting they are trying hustle me. my thought is once we get our looks into them a little bit, especially with the case managers, the case managers will stay on top of them. you arrest them otherwise and they'll be off the street for a day. >> stopping the flow of arrest is the main point of lead. it seems to be working william lead participants were 60% less likely to be rearrested after they entered the program than low level offenders who made their way through the traditional justice system. >> kind of a lower income area but we have seen a lot of drug activity here. >> on patrol with detective salazar we find out how it gets
determined who makes it into lead and who doesn't. >> that first thing i look for is attitude, somebody i figure might be amenable to treatment. >> salazar gets a call of a possible robbery mere the mall. the suspects who are apprehended admit to be heroin users, but after a background check they're deemed unsuitable to lead. >> one was interested in the lead program. but due to criminal history there was a robbery or domestic assault on a household member the d.a.'s office declined to allow them in the program. >> the program is including the mayor and the d.a.'s office. in santa fe the program gets funding from private sources. cost santa fe taxpayers a total of $4.2 million.
an average of 42,000 per person. it's estimated that the lead program is a savings of $800,000 a year. >> i just got a call from a girl, we'll head over there to see if she's eligible for program. >> salazar spent next half hour talking with the 24-year-old who doesn't want to appear on camera. >> work program? >> i've done everything. >> definitely if you are showing us stuff and going to meetings with your case manager and stuff like that. i'll go to the end of the earth for you okay? >> detective salazar seems optimistic about the latest lead
prospect. misty says she's been drug free for two years now and she recently finished community college. now she's back home in alaska. >> i actually want to start a lead program in alaska. other people can get inspiration from my story because i know that i was the worst of the worst and if i can change, anybody can. >> all right when we come back billionaire businessman richard branson standing by to explain why he is putting so much energy and time into decriminalizing dangerous drugs.
>> british tycoon and virgin group founder sir richard branson has long championed decriminalizing drug use. when he leaked a draft report from the united nations office on drug and crime or u.n. orvetion drvetioodc.branson joie british virgin islands. sir, thank you for being with us. you've created quite a kafuffle. you reported that people who have drug problems circulate be encouraged to come forward service being criminalized.
why do you think they withdrew that report? >> it is a good question. they were planning to release it on sunday. they had given it to the new york times, to the bbc, to others. i'd done an embargoed interview about it. i know that -- i know they also contacted the white house, the new york times contacted the white house for comment and somehow, after that, the chief executive of the u.n.ozc decidec drchltdc -- odc decided not to put the report out. we know what the u.n. odc thinks. to give you a couple of quotes from the report, they say crltzing peopl criminalizing people is unnecessary. this is from the body that is in charge of overseeing the war on drugs, on a global basis.
so you know, they' basically admitted that the current approach is the wrong approach, and there needs to be a change. >> let's talk about those arrests. according to the fbi, 1,561,231 arrests for drug law arrests were made in the united states last year, a majority of those arrests 83% were people feeding their own drug habits. now what do we do with that? that's more than half a million arrests, what's the solution, health care facilities, harm reduction facilities what are you suggesting glx look the >> the countries that are treating the problem not as a crime, are the dramatic people that are treating drugs, that must be welcomed. you tase portugal, they had -- you take portugal, they had a
very big problem five years ago, they said nobody will be criminalized for taking heroin ever again, we want to help you, come along see a social worker and we want that social worker to oversee you getting your fix for heroin. the state will supply the heroin. and we'll make sure you don't overdose and then when you are ready to come off we'll help you come off. and in the last ten years, they've reduced the amount of heroin addicts by 90%. those people are now useful members of society again. the heroin pushers have gone to other countries because the state actually supplied the fix. so that -- and the heroin addicts didn't need to break and enter into people's homes to get their heroin fix. it was a win-win all around and now it's become in portugal a completely nonevent and a shining example of all the world. >> in the united states people
use examples from europe or canada, culturally more similar to the united states, these are much smaller places given the scope and size of an area as the united states, your thoughts? >> absolutely they can be applied to the united states. what i would suggest is that you know, the legalization of marijuana and the selling of medical marijuana in many saits istatesin america, if the tax ft could go into addiction centers for both drugs and also for alcohol, you then got a win all round. because in those states where legalization has taken place of marijuana you have not seen a massive uptake of people taking marijuana. and you haven't seen any massive increase in damages as a result. in fact quite the reverse.
so then do it in more states, tax it and then use that money to help people who actually have drug problems or have alcohol problems. >> let me ask you from a business perspective. you are the ceo of virgin airlines, who continues to administer drug tests for safety person. $193 billion cost of drug arrests mainly due to lost productivity not crime. if we choose to decriminalize drugs more broadly, how do you square that with a business enterprise? >> you have got to drug test alcohol test an airline employees, ud be irresponsible not to.
i'm part of the global drug commission. we have 16 ex presidents, we have kofi anan. we have myself as a business approach to it. we've had five years of examining the war on drugs and it's been an abject failure, that has cost countries as you just mentioned billions and billions. a lot of courts, police, prisons, it's the misery that's caused by sending someone to prison giving them a criminal record, not helping them get off their drug problem. you know, the way to deal with this is you decriminalize. and therefore you don't send people to prison, you don't send people to court. if people have a problem you help them. 95% of the people who take drugs don't have a problem but sort of 5% who have a alcohol problem or a drug problem you help them. that's the way you get rid of this enormous cost to the
country, enormous misery to the individual. one more quote from the u.n. odc, the very threat of arrest obstructs lifesaving health services. the very threat of arrest obstructs lifesaving health services. at the threat of arrest they don't come forward for help. they die by overdosing, die by not coming for help. if you are not arresting people and they can come forward to get medical help without any fear they can be cured. and that must be a better approach. >> from where you sit not in neker island but where you sit globally, does it surprise you that the u.s. is still behind in a lot of these policies that have been implemented in canada, the u.k. and many places in europe. >> i think there are a lot of strange things that happen in america still. capital punishment is something we got rid of 60 years ago in europe.
and we got rid of it because an innocent person was about to be executed or had been executed and we realized what an awful thing we had done. i spent a couple of weeks ago trying to stop a wonderful man called richard who was going to be executed for a crime he didn't commit. fortunately at the very last minute the execution was put on hold. but it came very, very, very close. you know, you got -- you know you've got all your guns in america and olot of people are being killed. something that we don't have in europe. your prisons are full. there's lots of things that need to be addressed in america to -- for america to become i think a civilized country. but having said that there's lots of wonderful things about america if you can address these -- address these sores that you seem to have. >> all right richard branson thank you. stay where you are, i'm going to have more with billionaire
his, group includes virgin galactic. he joins us from the nekker islands. the very commercial sector of the space industry. when are we going to see it launch? >> it's very exciting. we've set up a company called one web with some wonderful partners and we plan to put seven or 800 satellites up initially, i mean nearly half the total number of satellites that are currently in space. and that will connect some of the one and a half billion people in the world that literally don't have internet or wifi access. if you don't have wifi or internet access or mobile phone access you're going to be held back.
so that's in a very, very exciting venture. and obviously our space program is back on track in february we're going to unveil our new spaceship. and you know we're looking forward to a wonderful, exciting new era of space travel ahead of us. >> you and i spoke after the crash of spaceship 2, coming up to the anniversary of that in november. tell me what's going on at space port america in new mexico, a lot of taxpayer money went into that, $200 million went into that, that it would be the virgin galactic space port, space tourism. you're not moving away from that are you? >> absolutely not. space is difficult and the people of new mexico have built an incredible space port. we are paying rent for it as we speak. we don't have our spaceship there yet. but it's not far off now.
and soon, spaceship america in new mexico will be open for business. we'll have a number of space ships parked there and it's going to be tremendously exciting. and i think it will be one of the things that make new mexico famous. it doesn't have to be ufos that people think they spotted many years ago. it will be space ships which they really will be able to go and see taking off on a regular basis. >> you've been outspoken about uber by the way, i've been curious about that as an entrepreneur. you think any country or jurisdiction attempting to halt uber, it should be easier for people being able to get a car with your phone. yet there is a push back and reaction around the world to it. is that just the taxi lobby or people not liking brash ceos? what do you think it's about?
>> i think it's a taxi lobby and obviously, taxis are going to be hurt by uber but you can't hold progress back. we used to have things called virgin mega-stores in times square and along the shonse chas elise rvetionsee, we had to acce had to close those music stores down, and move into mobile phones and space travel. twunonce the genie is out of the bottle, tremendous benefit to the world and to the public and you know things like airbnb and uber are remarkable companies
and should be supported. >> richard branson the founder of virgin group always a pleasure for talking to you. thank you for joining us. that is our show for today, i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us. >> battle over benghazi. presidential candidate hillary clinton facing one of the biggest challenges of her career as she prepares to testify before a congressional committee. bowing out. >> i believe we're out of time. time necessary to mount a winning campaign for the nomination. >> vice president joe biden ends all speculation about a run for white house,