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36 Funding Inadequate;Would Cut Drug
Proposition 36 Funding Inadequate;Would
Cut Drug Treatment Services
Gov. would continue
voter-mandated program in first
year of discretionary funding, but
laws supporters say $120 million
does not account for inflation or
meet current needs
Dave Fratello (310) 394-2952 or James
May (916) 444-3751
SACRAMENTO - Governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes continuing
Californias landmark, voter-approved
drug treatment-instead-of-jail program in
his 2006-07 budget. However, the Drug Policy
Alliance said today that the $120 million
proposed by the governor for Proposition
36 drug treatment programs is not nearly
enough to deliver quality treatment to the
36,000 people entering the program each
Dave Fratello, a co-author of Prop. 36,
said, The governor clearly sees
that the success of Prop. 36 in treating
tens of thousands of people argues for
continuing the program. And he clearly
appreciates that investing in Prop. 36
saves the state money.
Unfortunately, Fratello said,
he has not looked closely enough
at the real needs in this area. The level
of funding the governor proposes is more
than $18 million less than was spent on
Prop. 36 last year. This reduction would
result in a cut in drug treatment services
in many counties. If counties must cut
back, the types of treatment and duration
of treatment for many clients will be
limited, which inevitably lowers success
Whats worse, Fratello
continued, inadequate funding and
lower success rates mean jeopardizing
the savings this program generates when
people are successfully treated instead
of being incarcerated. The governor must
revisit this budget to improve outcomes
from Prop. 36 programs.
The Drug Policy Alliance suggested that
the governors proposed funding represents
as much as a $63.9 million shortfall to
meet the range of needs in treatment,
support services and criminal justice
supervision for the 36,000 or more clients
enrolling in Prop. 36 programs each year.
Put simply, Fratello said,
California needs to spend more to
save more on Prop. 36 programs. The tradeoff
between paying for adequate treatment
or paying to imprison nonviolent drug
offenders should make this an easy decision.
The actual costs of implementing Prop.
36 have averaged more than $138 million
the last two years, including $138.4 million
in fiscal year 2003-04, according to the
state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.
And a simple adjustment for inflation
would call for the budget to be at least
$140.6 million instead of the $120 million
first set by the ballot measure, which
was first submitted to state officials
in 1999, the Alliance noted.
What the governor has given us
is a 1999 budget in 2006, said Fratello.
Proposition 36 was approved by 61 percent
of voters in November 2000. A June 2004
poll by the Field Institute showed support
for the law at 73 percent.
Because of Proposition 36, there are
now nearly 6,300 fewer prisoners serving
time for drug possession, a dramatic drop
of 32% since drug-related incarceration
peaked in 1999 and 2000. Nearly 12,000
people have successfully completed substance
treatment during each year of Proposition
36s existence, and the program is
on track to graduate 60,000 people in
its first five years.
The 2006-07 fiscal year is the first
year in which funding for the voter-approved
program is discretionary for the governor
and the legislature. Five and one-half
years funding was set aside by the
voter initiative, which also mandated
independent analyses of the programs
Jail Sanctions Unproven and
Besides reauthorizing funding, the governors
budget document also calls for significant
reforms to Proposition 36, including
the use of jail time to punish relapse
during drug treatment. However, Prop.
36 prohibits the use of such jail
sanctions, and even supporters of
such a change acknowledge that there is
no scientific evidence that jail time
improves treatment outcomes. Prop. 36
supporters have vowed to sue to block
implementation of any legislation adding
jail sanctions to the voter-approved law.
Fratello said, We all want to improve
outcomes in Prop. 36, but cutting treatment
dollars and jailing more people are not
positive reforms. Those are ways of turning
back the clock to bring back the old system
that Prop. 36 replaced.
The evidence is clear that more
and better treatment will give us better
results, Fratello said. There
is no evidence that jail time will help
people stay in treatment and avoid prison.
The focus here must be on treatment dollars.
Jail sanctions are unproven, unconstitutional,
and an unfortunate distraction to a discussion
of how to make Prop. 36 work better.
36 Fact Sheet
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