Caption: Camden Tax Foreclosures and Open Air Drug Markets, Credit: Frank Fulbrook
Image by: Frank Fulbrook 
Camden Tax Foreclosures and Open Air Drug Markets 

Tax Foreclosures and Open-Air Drug Markets in Camden New Jersey

From: Chris Goldstein
Series: Active Voice Radio
Length: 29:28

Frank Fulbrook discusses his paper "Urban De-vitalization: How Drug Prohibition is Destroying City Neighborhoods" the only study of how empty buildings and drug dealing relate in Camden New Jersey. Read the full description.

Camden_frank1_small Welcome back to Active Voice Radio this week.

Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter have created a Blue Ribbon Commission to review the entire American Criminal Justice System over the next 18 months. This would be the most comprehensive look at one of the largest aspects of government in our country's history. Something at the core of this review is the policy of drug prohibition.

Both Senators have said that any and all options are on the table to make changes in our criminal justice system....and drug laws do dominate the efforts of police, courts, attorneys and specialized enforcement. There is indeed a renewed argument to moving our substance abuse focus from prohibition enforcement to treatment with the core value in these concepts being public health.

Many point to the border where violence has been visible and prevalent lately. Other point to American's urban environments that are blighted by the problems of dug abuse and further destroyed by our current policies of absolute enforcement.

And the violence in the cities is unmistakable. Add into the mix an shpar downturn in the economy and we are presented with a perfect storm for status quo prohibition policies and enforcement to further destroy our country.

One of the issues in urban setting for drugs is empty buildings. Abandoned structures provide a haven for criminal enterprises including dealing drugs. When drug dealers move into on empty building in a neighborhood there may be no going back. But in order for the dealers to move in...the building has to be empty in the first place.

A common theme to our everyday news is the mortgage crisis and individuals struggling with priority taxes. When those taxes go unpaid, cities take over the buildings and they often remain empty for long periods of time while bureaucracy slowly turns the wheels on the paperwork and legal filings.

By the time the bureaucracy has caught up, the dealers have moved in and entire blocks have been affected.

While much attention has been on the US Mexico border theses problems can be seen most clearly several thousands miles away in Camden New Jersey.

Situated directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Camden used to be a thriving community and home to companies like RCA and Campbell's soup.

Now the city is a patchwork or neighborhoods that go from the bright, new areas to burnt out blight in a matter of a dozen feet.
 
The Camden Waterfront boats the State Aquarium, a multi million dollar concert venue, the Battleship New Jersey museum and the River Sharks minor league baseball stadium. Rutgers University and Cooper Medical Center have grown their campuses and improved some neighborhoods along the way.

But the rest of the city has been eaten alive by the violence associated with prohibition policy.

On Active Voice Radio we are conducting a series on the impact drug prohibition has had on Camden New Jersey through the eyes of one resident who has taken on the problem head-on.
 
Frank Fulbrook is an old hippie who bought his first beat up set of Camden buildings in the late 1960's. With the help of his friends and the community spirit alive and well at the time, Frank was able to restore several properties and rent them out to people looking to start artist's communities and business in the city.

For awhile Frank and his friends worked in a city that looked like it as going places and would blossom in the shadow of Philadelphia.

But in the late 70's drug prohibition enforcement came to town.

By the 80's buildings were being abandoned by owners, taken over by the city and open-air drug markets began to flourish.

By the 90's this cancer was malignant and the problem areas were growing.

After years of serving in several capacities in the county government, including the Land-Use Board, Fulbrook, now in his 50's, decided to earn his college degree and attended Rutgers University studying Public Affairs.

His 2001 thesis bears the title: Urban De-vitalization How The Policy of Drug Prohibition is Destroying our City Neighborhoods" and the paper is the only comprehensive study of the relationship between tax foreclosed properties and open-air drug markets in Camden ever conducted.

Frank still lives in one of his originally restored properties. A place he has called home for over 40 years. What used to be a blighted neighborhood now has brand new brick sidewalks and backs up against a gleaming new Rutgers parking lot with white metal picnic tables.

It was here that I met Frank to talk about his research.

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Piece Description

Welcome back to Active Voice Radio this week.

Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter have created a Blue Ribbon Commission to review the entire American Criminal Justice System over the next 18 months. This would be the most comprehensive look at one of the largest aspects of government in our country's history. Something at the core of this review is the policy of drug prohibition.

Both Senators have said that any and all options are on the table to make changes in our criminal justice system....and drug laws do dominate the efforts of police, courts, attorneys and specialized enforcement. There is indeed a renewed argument to moving our substance abuse focus from prohibition enforcement to treatment with the core value in these concepts being public health.

Many point to the border where violence has been visible and prevalent lately. Other point to American's urban environments that are blighted by the problems of dug abuse and further destroyed by our current policies of absolute enforcement.

And the violence in the cities is unmistakable. Add into the mix an shpar downturn in the economy and we are presented with a perfect storm for status quo prohibition policies and enforcement to further destroy our country.

One of the issues in urban setting for drugs is empty buildings. Abandoned structures provide a haven for criminal enterprises including dealing drugs. When drug dealers move into on empty building in a neighborhood there may be no going back. But in order for the dealers to move in...the building has to be empty in the first place.

A common theme to our everyday news is the mortgage crisis and individuals struggling with priority taxes. When those taxes go unpaid, cities take over the buildings and they often remain empty for long periods of time while bureaucracy slowly turns the wheels on the paperwork and legal filings.

By the time the bureaucracy has caught up, the dealers have moved in and entire blocks have been affected.

While much attention has been on the US Mexico border theses problems can be seen most clearly several thousands miles away in Camden New Jersey.

Situated directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Camden used to be a thriving community and home to companies like RCA and Campbell's soup.

Now the city is a patchwork or neighborhoods that go from the bright, new areas to burnt out blight in a matter of a dozen feet.
 
The Camden Waterfront boats the State Aquarium, a multi million dollar concert venue, the Battleship New Jersey museum and the River Sharks minor league baseball stadium. Rutgers University and Cooper Medical Center have grown their campuses and improved some neighborhoods along the way.

But the rest of the city has been eaten alive by the violence associated with prohibition policy.

On Active Voice Radio we are conducting a series on the impact drug prohibition has had on Camden New Jersey through the eyes of one resident who has taken on the problem head-on.
 
Frank Fulbrook is an old hippie who bought his first beat up set of Camden buildings in the late 1960's. With the help of his friends and the community spirit alive and well at the time, Frank was able to restore several properties and rent them out to people looking to start artist's communities and business in the city.

For awhile Frank and his friends worked in a city that looked like it as going places and would blossom in the shadow of Philadelphia.

But in the late 70's drug prohibition enforcement came to town.

By the 80's buildings were being abandoned by owners, taken over by the city and open-air drug markets began to flourish.

By the 90's this cancer was malignant and the problem areas were growing.

After years of serving in several capacities in the county government, including the Land-Use Board, Fulbrook, now in his 50's, decided to earn his college degree and attended Rutgers University studying Public Affairs.

His 2001 thesis bears the title: Urban De-vitalization How The Policy of Drug Prohibition is Destroying our City Neighborhoods" and the paper is the only comprehensive study of the relationship between tax foreclosed properties and open-air drug markets in Camden ever conducted.

Frank still lives in one of his originally restored properties. A place he has called home for over 40 years. What used to be a blighted neighborhood now has brand new brick sidewalks and backs up against a gleaming new Rutgers parking lot with white metal picnic tables.

It was here that I met Frank to talk about his research.