Legislators Show Support for Treatment-not-Incarceration
In late May, two
California legislative subcommittees
sent a message of support for treatment
when they rejected Governor Schwarzenegger's
plans to slash funding for Prop.
36, the state's voter-enacted, treatment-instead-of-incarceration
law. The six-year-old program makes
drug treatment available to tens
of thousands of people convicted
of nonviolent drug offenses each
year and has already saved taxpayers
over $1.7 billion.
At separate hearings in late may
the Assembly Budget Subcommittee
voted to keep funding flat at $145
million and the Senate Budget Subcommittee
voted to increase funding to $180
million. The subcommittee's recommendation
to increase funding for Prop. 36
suggests that legislators are heeding
the advice of policy experts and
treatment providers who say that
more resources are needed.
In a study
released in April, researchers
from the University of California
at Los Angeles showed that Prop.
36 needs a minimum level of funding
of $228.6 million to provide adequate
treatment to generate greater cost
savings. More funding translates
into more treatment options, longer
treatment durations and, if the
money is spent in the right way,
higher rates of success.