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April 18, 2007
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Hundreds of Prop. 36 Graduates Form Chain of Recovery at State Capitol, Celebrate Program’s Success

Treatment-Not-Incarceration Program Has Graduated Over 70,000 Californians and Saved Taxpayers Over $1.5 Billion in Six Years

Contact: Dave Fratello (310) 394-2952 or Margaret Dooley (858) 336-3685

SACRAMENTO, April 18 – Hundreds of graduates and supporters of California’s six-year-old, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program, will gather on the West Steps of the State Capitol Building today for the second annual “Prop. 36 Works!” rally and to form a human chain of recovery. The event celebrates the program’s success and draws attention to the positive and contagious nature of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, as well as the need for greater access to substance abuse treatment for all Californians suffering from addiction, especially those in the criminal justice system.

Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said “We pass Prop. 36 graduates on the street every day, but we don’t know it—because they look like any other Californian. Today is about bringing some much-deserved attention to the state’s 70,000 graduates and celebrating their hard-earned achievements. Their success has had a huge positive impact not only on their lives and their families, but on all Californians.”

The theme of the day “Building the Chain of Recovery” highlights the positive and contagious nature of recovery. In addition to reuniting with family and re-entering the work force, many Prop. 36 graduates are now certified alcohol and drug counselors or active in supporting others who are newer to recovery.

Rudy Mendez, a Prop. 36 graduate from San Diego’s Alpha Project and a member of the La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians, said “For generations, the men in my family have suffered with alcoholism, drug addiction and incarceration. But with the help of Prop. 36 and my higher power, I have broken that cycle and am helping others in my family do the same. The first person to follow me was my father. Now, two of my cousins are on the road to long-term recovery. I am blessed every day to share the gift of recovery.”

The benefits of Prop. 36 can also be counted in dollars saved. According to UCLA, every $1 invested in Prop. 36 saves taxpayers $2.50. For program completers, every $1 invested saves $4. UCLA put first year (2001-02) savings at $173 million. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that the state’s $120 million annual investment in Prop. 36 resulted in net savings of $205 million in 2002-03 and $297 million in 2004-05. Conservatively estimating $200 million in savings per year, total program savings in six years surpasses $1.2 billion.

Nearly six years into Prop. 36, the number of people incarcerated for drug possession has fallen by 32% (5,000 people). More than 1,000 Californians on parole complete treatment under Prop. 36 each year instead of going back to prison. By diverting so many into treatment, Prop. 36 rendered unnecessary the construction of a new men’s prison (saving an addition $500 million) and also resulted in the shuttering of a women’s prison. This brings total savings to $1.7 billion.

The gathering of hundreds of Prop. 36 graduates comes just days after researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles released their latest analysis of Prop. 36, which finds that the program needs at least $228.6 million to provide adequate services, improve treatment outcomes and increase taxpayer savings. UCLA’s figure is $80 million higher than the state spent on Prop. 36 in 2005-06, and $109 million higher than the governor has proposed spending in 2007-08.

Prop. 36 Background
Prop. 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. Nearly 12,000 people have successfully completed substance treatment during each year of Prop. 36’s existence, putting the program on track to graduate 72,000 Californians in its first six years.

The UCLA report is online here.

Proposition 36 Fact Sheet

See more press releases

Common Sense for Drug Policy
California Society of Addiction Medicine
California State Association of Counties

Read commentary from Oliver H., a Prop 36 graduate.

Get the Facts
Over a dozen Proposition 36 fact sheets are available for download. Topics include: the Effectiveness of Drug Treatment, Drug Courts/Deferred Entry, and the California Correctional System.
breakdowns of the 2000 initiative votes
For background on the Prop. 36 campaign and other votes nationwide for drug policy reform, see:

Contact Lists
County Lead Agencies
and Contacts
Parole Region Contact
Probation Contacts



Drug Policy Alliance · (916) 444-3751 · [email protected]