Endres Collection: The Proposed Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1970

Authored by Catherine Sheehan.

Press Release from the office of Peter W. Rodino on Narcotics Use.

The press release from the Office of Peter W. Rodino dated April 26, 1970 is part of the archived Arthur P. Endres Papers at the Center for Migration Services. The collection contains Endres’ documents, who served as counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law, from 1973-1989 (CMS 2018).

Rodino’s News Release is part of a collection of press releases and documents on the “War on Drugs” from the 1960s through 1980s. The release and attached summary of the “Rodino Bill” lay out a proposed Amendment to the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act of 1966 (Rodino 1970). Under the act, narcotic addicts may be eligible for “civil commitment in lieu of criminal prosecution” (Criminal Resource Manual 1870, Title I). Rodino’s proposed bill expands the coverage of the Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act for “medical treatment, supervision, and control of any person who is known to be a narcotic addict” to be committed to a medical facility (Rodino 1970).

Narcotics addiction legislation was part of a larger legislative effort against drug use in America from the 1960s through the 1980s with emphasis on the rehabilitation of users and the punishment of drug pushers (Musto 1991). Rodino (1970) placed emphasis on the role of the drug pusher “who preys on the addict” as “our most heinous criminals.” This dichotomy of roles created a societal mindset that only addicts were redeemable as the pushers were perpetrators and criminals (Kohler-Hausmann 2017). The Narcotic Addict Rehabilitation Act, Rodino’s bill, and its counterparts are part of an intertwined system of criminalization and medicalization as mutually dependent strategies (Kohler-Hausmann 2017). The compulsory commitment of addicts either voluntary, by a family member, or in lieu of criminal prosecution attempts to normalize the addict into society with the goal of reform (42 U.S. Code § 3401).

Rodino’s efforts through the proposed bill function as part of a larger legislative effort to curb narcotics use and distribution. David Musto (1991), states that an individual’s “race, ethnicity, neighborhood, gender, and class” all became factors in whether they were prosecuted or committed. In this manner, addicts and drug pushers came to be misrepresented to society, entangled in the dichotomies used in the language of legislation like the News Release (Kohler-Hausmann 2017).

Respect, “an awareness of and esteem for all individuals,” is needed when dealing with those suffering from addiction or in a position where illegal drugs are their only income (Angel 2013). Rehabilitation of addicts into citizens as the goal of Rodino’s proposal is part of a larger legislative framework. Implicit biases of drug users and pushers can find their basis in legislation. The present-day drug legislative framework and societal biases are products of these acts and their effects (Kohler-Hausmann 2017). Rodino’s proposal is one of many that ultimately became part of national narcotics legislation, and other national drug treatment frameworks (Musto 1991).



Angel, Christine M. 2013. “Information Representation through the Vincentian Lens of Transparency: Providing the Under and Misrepresented with a Voice Within our Cultural Heritage Records.” Google Docs. Accessed March 13, 2018. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1VkY3xbRv1Ikuny5LApVmVWmSiZ81OTtUyJ6aSl_I3xo/edit?usp=embed_facebook.

Arthur P. (‘Skip’) Endres Papers, 1960-1980s – The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). The Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS). Accessed March 9, 2018. http://cmsny.org/archives/cms_105/.

Criminal Resource Manual 1870. Title I — Narcotic Rehabilitation Act | USAM | Department of Justice. Office of the United States Attorneys, United States Department of Justice. Accessed March 9, 2018. https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-1870-title-i-narcotic-rehabilitation-act.

Kohler-Hausmann, Julilly, ed. 2017. “Addicts into Citizens: THE TRIBULATIONS OF NEW YORK’S TREATMENT REGIME.” In Getting Tough: Welfare and Imprisonment in 1970s America, 33–78. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press. http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1vwmhg2.7.

Musto, David F. 1991. “A Brief History of American Drug Control.” OAH Magazine of History 6, no. 2: 12–15.

Rodino, Peter W. 1970, April 26. “Rodino Proposes Vigorous Federal Program to Curb Narcotics Use,” Endres Collection, Center for Migration Studies, St. John’s University.

42 U.S. Code § 3401 – Declaration of Policy. LII / Legal Information Institute. Accessed March 9, 2018. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/3401.

80 Stat. 1438 – An Act to Amend Title 18 of the United States Code to Enable the Courts to Dead More Effectively with the Problem of Narcotic Addiction, and for Other Purposes – Content Details – STATUTE-80-Pg1438. Accessed March 12, 2018. https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/STATUTE-80/STATUTE-80-Pg1438.