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May 3, 2010

C.R.A.C.K. PROGRAM -- PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT OR CONTROL OF CERTAIN POPULATIONS?

Download file which includes footnotes.

(C.R.A.C.K is currently called Project Prevention).

On the surface, CRACK’s goals don’t necessarily seem dangerous or objectionable. For example they say that “The program is completely voluntary for participants,” and that their mission is “to empower the active or recovering addict with the ability and freedom to control their lives.” Statement, by their founder and director, Barbara Harris however make clear that control, not empowerment, is in fact CRACK’s primary purpose.

As one commentary, quoting Ms. Harris observed,

“Addict, recovering addict, dirty, clean . . . whatever. The distinction hardly matters to CRACK (Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity), the group that gave [the client] the money. ‘As long as they stay on birth control,’ says founder Barbara Harris, ‘That’s all we care about.’

Similarly, Ms. Harris has stated: “Finally I realized. . . . that if I wanted these women to take birth control, I’d have to do it on my own,” and she has said “It’s sad that they’re on drugs, but the bottom line is, I don’t want them to get pregnant.” Ms. Harris has also written: “We don’t say we’re concerned with the welfare of the mothers. Crack’s mission is to stop them from having more doomed babies.” A flyer they distributed also strongly suggests that their real mission is control rather than empowerment. It’s headline read: “Don’t let a pregnancy ruin your drug habit.”

In fact, CRACK’s chief spokesperson, has expressed extraordinary disdain for the program’s clients, comparing them to animals: “I’m not saying these women are dogs, but they’re not acting any more responsible than a dog in heat.” She has also stated: “We don’t allow dogs to breed. We spay them. We neuter them. We try to keep them from having unwanted puppies, and yet these women are literally having litters of children.” And again, in another context: “They’re having litters. They are literally having litters.” On the television news program 60 Minutes II, Ms. Harris was asked about these comments and given an opportunity to distance herself from them. She replied: “Well you know my son that goes to Stanford said ‘Mom, please don’t ever say that again’ But it’s the truth, they don’t just have one and two babies they have litters.”

Although CRACK claims that --“[e]very woman that chooses to use birth control does so by choice, we don’t talk anyone into making that decision, the decision is up to her and her doctor,” this does not always seem to be the case.

In Michigan, the CRACK program was willing to pay $500 for one woman whose childbearing they found particularly egregious. According to Pam Cade who started the Michigan chapter of CRACK “. . .this case is so horrible that we want to make her an offer she can’t refuse.” Barbara Harris, said “We will get this woman on birth control by any means necessary.” “If she says no, we’ll up the ante.” And, indeed, the news story about their efforts reports that “[t]he group has enlisted a Pontiac police officer to find [the woman] and extend the offer.”

The testimonials that CRACK chooses to post on their website make clear their true mission of control: “We are both firm supporters of your ideas to control and or stop CRACK addicted mothers from having any more addicted babies, by requiring such methods as Norplant;” “Personally I feel if a "bribe" is what it takes to get these people from having unwanted and damaged children then let's bribe them.”