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May 10, 2007
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Ahead of Monday Budget Release, Advocates Urge Gov. to Increase Drug Treatment Funding

In Time of Prison Crisis, Proponents Point to Prop. 36 as Solution

Program Needs $228.6 Million to Provide Adequate Services and Increase Taxpayer Savings, Says State-Commissioned UCLA Report

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

SACRAMENTO, May 10 – Next Monday (May 14), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will release his revised budget proposal for Proposition 36, California’s voter-enacted, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program. Advocates are calling on the governor to heed the advice of a recent state-funded report by increasing funding for the program to $228.6 million.

Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, “Even before UCLA recommended $230 million as the minimum annual funding level, there was consensus among doctors, treatment providers and advocates, and county governments that Prop. 36 needs more funding, not less. Only a substantial funding increase can provide adequate treatment and continue to expand this program’s documented cost savings. We hope the governor’s May revise will reflect this broad consensus.”

The governor’s January budget proposed slashing Prop. 36 funding from $145 million to $120 million, while diverting half of those funds into an “Offender Treatment Program” (OTP) requiring a 1-9 county match. At legislative budget hearings, treatment providers and local governments have vocally expressed their displeasure. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) noted in February that a reduction in Prop. 36 funding would increase prison costs. The LAO also pointed to some prospective legal concerns regarding the shifting of funds from the Prop. 36 trust fund into OTP.

Several major California newspapers have also criticized the Governor’s plan. The Los Angeles Times editorial page said: “The UCLA study flagged [shortcomings] in Proposition 36, most of which point to a need for longer, more intensive treatment. That means more funding, not less.” The Orange County Register and San Diego’s North County Times also weighed in against the governor’s plan and in support of cost-effective, community-based treatment.

Dave Fratello, co-author of Prop. 36, said, “The state budget may be tight, but California can’t afford to reduce its commitment to Prop. 36. UCLA has shown again and again that Prop. 36 generates huge cost savings, improves thousands of lives each year and has significantly reduces the burden on our prisons. We can show now with data that drug addiction is most expensive when it is not treated.”

UCLA Finds Big Savings, Recommends Big Funding Increase
Nearly six years into Prop. 36, the number of people incarcerated for drug possession has fallen by 32% (5,000 people). By diverting so many into treatment, Prop. 36 rendered unnecessary the construction of a new men’s prison (saving an addition $500m) and also resulted in the shuttering of a women’s prison, bringing total savings to $1.7 billion.
Prior UCLA analyses of Prop. 36, required under law, established that every $1 invested results in $2.50 of savings to state and local government coffers, with most of those savings accrued by the state. UCLA researchers used a stringent, rigorous “taxpayers’ perspective” model only considered these direct savings.

UCLA’s most recent analysis, released last month, found that the program requires at least $228.6 million to provide minimal, adequate treatment and to help generate even greater cost savings. The researchers found that average stays in treatment are shorter in Prop. 36 than in similar systems because the program is under-funded. Also, many people receive incorrect, less expensive treatment placements and have little probation supervision during their stays.

UCLA researchers arrived at their recommended funding level by analyzing the costs of a series of improvements, including:

  • More appropriate treatment placement (e.g., residential placement for those severely addicted, $18.9 million);
  • Providing a “minimum dose,” or 90 days, of treatment ($31.3 million);
  • Expanding access to narcotic replacement therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine ($3.7 million); and
  • Enhancing probation supervision ($25 million).

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]