Orange County To Reduce Residential Drug Treatment Benefits for Drug Offender Program, Official Says
Orange County will reduce by 80% the number of people it places in residential drug treatment programs because of a shortfall in state funding for Proposition 36 programs, according to a county official, the Los Angeles Times reports (Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times, 7/30). Under Proposition 36, a ballot measure approved by California voters in November 2000, some nonviolent drug offenders are offered treatment rather than prison (California Healthline, 6/20). An analysis requested by the Orange County Grand Jury found that county agencies expect to spend $14.5 million in the current fiscal year to provide treatment under Proposition 36, but the state will provide only $8.5 million for the programs. Because of the funding difference, as many as 700 people will receive outpatient care instead of being placed in residential treatment centers, according to Sandra Fair, chief of behavioral operations for the county Health Care Agency and chair of the county's Proposition 36 oversight committee. Tom Havlena, a senior assistant public defender who represents the public defender's office on the county Proposition 36 committee, said, "I think the program is working well for some people, but it could be more effective for others if there was more funding. We have clients who sometimes desperately need and want residential treatment, but the resources aren't there." Funding for the program could become "more troublesome" in July 2006 when state funding for the program will run out, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.