PROP 36: Treatment, not Prison for ‘Nonviolent’ Drug Offenders
California voters Nov. 7 will vote on Proposition 36, a measure that would mandate court- supervised treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent narcotics offenders, the AP/Nando Times reports. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimated the measure would save "hundreds of millions of dollars" in prison operating and construction costs by keeping 36,000 drug offenders out of prison each year. Dave Fratello, head of the California Campaign for New Drug Policies, said, "We are trying to reduce our state's reliance on incarceration when it comes to drugs, get more people into treatment and give them a chance to turn it around before we use a club on them through the criminal justice system." The propositions' opponents -- who include the Drug Free America Foundation, the Betty Ford Center and law enforcement groups -- say the fear of being sent to prison can keep people off drugs. Marcelle Wess, a former crack cocaine addict who is now a drug court "coordinator," said only the fear of imprisonment kept her "clean." She said, "If you come up with a dirty test, you're looking at a weekend in jail. It was a way to focus, a way to keep you off drugs." An October California Field Poll found 49% supported the measure, 28% opposed it and 23% were undecided (Thompson, AP/Nando Times, 10/24).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.