July 16, 2001
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Downey Jr. to Receive Treatment,
Not Prison For Non-Violent Drug Possession
Actor Diverted Under Prop.
36 - Californias Historic New Treatment
Instead of Incarceration Ballot Measure
Drug Policy Reformers Say
Prop. 36 Is Already Working, Focus Should Now
Turn to Finding Most Effective Treatments
Contact: Whitney Taylor, (916)
Under the terms of Californias
landmark Proposition 36, Robert Downey Jr. will not
be going to prison for his drug addiction, a court ruled
today. The actor, who entered a plea of no contest
to cocaine possession charges, was instead sentenced
to one year of residential drug treatment.
Prop. 36, which went into effect
July 1, mandates treatment instead of incarceration
for a persons first two non-violent drugs offenses.
It is expected to save California taxpayers more than
$900 million over five years, while diverting an estimated
36,000 people per year into treatment. Advocates say
Mr. Downeys case proves that the initiative
is having its intended effect.
Robert Downey Jr.s case
shows that Prop. 36 is already doing what the voters
of California intended - providing treatment, not
prison, for people with drug problems, said
Whitney Taylor, director of Prop. 36 Implementation
for the Lindesmith Center - Drug Policy Foundation.
Recovery from addiction is widely
recognized to involve relapse - often a number of
times - before it is successful. Taylor said that
Downeys repeated efforts to get clean are not
at all unusual, and that people require a wide variety
of forms of treatment to achieve lasting success.
Putting a life back together
after a problem with drugs or alcohol - or food or
gambling for that matter -- can be a long and difficult
process, said Taylor. Prop. 36 takes the
essential first step by recognizing that prison is
not the answer. Step two is to experiment patiently
with different approaches until we find something
that will work for Mr. Downey and the tens of thousands
of others like him.