Study Finds Lack of Preparedness for Proposition 36 in Four Large Counties
While California counties' treatment centers and judicial systems are mostly prepared for Sunday's implementation of Proposition 36, the voter-passed ballot initiative that calls for first- and second-time nonviolent drug offenders in California to receive treatment instead of jail time, four of the state's largest counties have not set aside enough funding for treatment and have "relied too heavily on law enforcement officials" to develop their plans for the initiative, according to a report released Wednesday by the Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation. The Los Angeles Times reports that the center, which assisted in the drafting of Proposition 36, analyzed 11 counties that account for 75% of the state's population (Gronke/Krikorian, Los Angeles Times, 6/28). The counties were graded on their readiness plan for Proposition 36 based on four factors: the ratio of money spent on treatment versus probation or "other supervision"; the "number and variety of treatment options"; the ratio of "reliance" on law enforcement versus treatment professionals; and the "amount of community involvement" in the counties' planning. San Francisco received the highest grade, an A, while Santa Clara, San Diego, Sacramento and San Bernardino counties received the worst grades; San Bernardino county earned the only failing grade. Sacramento and San Bernardino were criticized for their treatment to probation ratio -- the former will devote 54% of its funds to treatment and the latter 57%. Among the other counties studied, San Mateo received an A-, Alameda and Orange received B's, Los Angeles received a B-, and Fresno and Riverside received C's. Glenn Backes, the Lindesmith Center's national director of health and harm reductions, said, "The strongest predictor of whether [counties] got a good grade or not was money." He added that the "money's been put in the wrong place" in the counties that received low grades.
Officials from counties that received poor marks said that the study was flawed. For example, Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson said that much of the money earmarked for probation will be "related" to treatment services (Thompson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/28). The report stated that "San Bernardino County ... has designed an implementation plan that is likely to fail. There is no commitment to quality treatment, but rather a bolstering of criminal justice programs." But David Wert, a spokesperson for San Bernardino County, noted that its combination of law enforcement and treatment for drug offenders has given the county a 70% success rate in preventing second offenses. He said, "Clearly the people who wrote this report card don't think that the courts or law enforcement should be involved in the drug problem anymore. In San Bernardino County it has been proven that if you offer people the option of treatment, it is only successful if they know that they will face legal consequences if they don't cooperate" (Los Angeles Times, 6/28). And San Diego County officials said that the study's assertion that the county does not provide methadone treatment for heroin addicts is incorrect (Thompson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/28). The full report card is available at http://www.prop36.org/report.tpl
Here are some quick views of other articles focusing on the preparations for Proposition 36's implementation:
- The Riverside Press-Enterprise looks at the Lindesmith study's analysis of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties (Kataoka, Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/28).
- The Fresno Bee looks at the study's analysis of Fresno County (Davis, Fresno Bee, 6/28).
- The San Diego Union-Tribune examines whether San Diego County will be able to handle the new treatment cases prompted by Proposition 36 (Moran, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/25).
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