Utah's push to stamp out drug abuse and violent crimes received a $3,530,000 boost from the federal government Friday - a 7 percent increase over last year's amount.
U.S. Attorney Dee Benson presented Gov. Norm Bangerter with the $3.5 million check during a noon press conference in the Bangerter's office. The federal government gave all states a 7 percent increase in their annual allotment of federal money for the war on crime.The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice will distribute the money to 30 different state and local agencies. Recipients include the Utah attorney general's child abuse prosecution unit, the Utah Department of Public Safety force in charge of tracking down clandestine drug labs and a program at the Utah State Prison that monitors and aids inmates with serious drug problems, said Mark Jones, director of the commission.
Utah has seen a sharper drop in teenage drug use than any other state in the nation, Jones said. A 1989 survey of all U.S. high school students showed that students in Utah reported the largest decline in drug use since 1985 when the survey was last taken.
The U.S. Office of Substance Abuse and Prevention coordinated the surveys, Jones said.
Bangerter used the press conference to update the public on Utah's drive to control drug use. The 1991 Legislature passed a law expanding drug free zones to include malls, churches and recreational facilities frequented by minors.
"Anyone arrested for selling drugs to a minor in these areas will be given a mandatory 5-year prison sentence," Bangerter said. "Together we are sending a message to those who dare deal drugs in this state: Stay away from our children."