March 11, 2003
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State Commission Evaluates CA Addiction Response
Little Hoover Strongly
Backs Drug Treatment And Prop. 36, Urges Expansion
Report Comes As Gov. Davis
Fights For Big State Prison Budgets -- And Realignment
Of Prop. 36
Prop. 36 Advocates Join
Call For Increase In "Quality And Quantity"
Of Treatment Options
Contact: Tony Newman, Drug
Policy Alliance: (510) 208-7711
SACRAMENTO, CA - The prestigious
Little Hoover Commission - created in 1962 to investigate
state government operations and promote efficiency,
economy and improved service - today released a report
on Californias strategies addressing drug addiction.
The report, a resounding endorsement of Prop. 36,
calls on policymakers to follow the voters lead
by significantly expanding cost-effective and successful
treatment options across the state.
The Little Hoover report is
a powerful and unequivocal confirmation of how smart
the voters were when they passed Prop. 36, said
Daniel Abrahamson, legal director for the Drug Policy
Alliance and co-author of the initiative. Millions
of Californians know that drug treatment works better
and costs less than prison. The question remains,
whats it going to take for the governor to wake
up and see the truth, too?
The report comes at a time when Gov.
Grey Davis, an outspoken opponent of Prop. 36, has
proposed to realign the initiatives
implementation. The change, which Prop. 36 advocates
strongly oppose, would remove all state oversight
of Prop. 36, including auditing, data collection,
quality assurance, and a state-wide five year evaluation.
With California facing a $35 billion
deficit and forced to make painful spending cuts,
Governor Davis has also refused to consider reducing
any part of the states bloated prison budget.
(Corrections was actually the only department to receive
a budget increase this year.) Prop. 36 backers say
the governors refusal flies in the face of all
of the findings in the Little Hoover report, which
explicitly underscore the cost-saving power of treatment
over incarceration and encourages a reallocation of
resources between the Department of Corrections and
agencies delivering substance abuse services.
The commissions differences
with Governor Daviss heavy emphasis on criminal
justice and prison-based responses to addiction are
clear, as is its enthusiastic endorsement of Prop.
36. From the opening letter by Michael E. Alpert,
chairman of the commission:
A majority of Californians have come
to realize the insidious nature of addiction, as well
as the ineffectiveness, disparate and at times overly
punitive response to those trapped in addiction. Proposition
36, approved by voters, reflected a clear choice -
one supported by academic research and practical experience
- that treatment can be a cost-effective, socially
responsible and humane solution.
But the voter initiative did not
go far enough. It did not make sure that the State
was strategically using prevention, treatment and
enforcement tools to reduce the consequences of addiction.
And it did not ensure that the publicly-funded treatment
programs perform to their potential to change lives.
Those tasks still await state and local policy-makers
and program administrators.
Prop. 36 was passed California voters
in November 2000. It allows for treatment instead
of incarceration for low-level, non-violent drug offenders.
According to a Drug Policy Alliance County Survey,
after one year (July 2001-July 2002), approximately
17,907 individuals were referred to Proposition 36
in six counties in California (Los Angeles, Riverside,
Ventura, San Diego, Contra Costa and Sacramento).
These six counties represent approximately 50% of
the states population. Additionally, within
the first year of implementation of Proposition 36
the California treatment system has increased the
number of licensed and certified programs by 68%,
which includes a 20% increase in residential treatment
Proposition 36 was a winner
with the voters, it has proven a great success for
Californias residents, and now it has been deemed
a watershed policy initiative by respected, nonpartisan
evaluators, added Abrahamson. Its
time to come on board, Governor Davis.
Read the full report: For
Our Health & Safety: Joining Forces To Defeat