Voters Pass Prop. 36
California voters yesterday approved Proposition 36, a ballot initiative that will allow first and second-time drug offenders to receive treatment instead of jail time. The Associated Press reports that roughly 60% of voters supported the measure (Keith, Associated Press, 11/8). California now becomes the second state, following Arizona, to implement such a policy, which marks a "wholesale shift in the way the courts handle nonviolent drug offenders." Gretchen Bergman, chair of the Yes on 36 campaign, said, "People finally understand that addiction is a [treatable] disease ... and that the answer to this epidemic is not locking addicts up." Proposition 36, which will cost $120 million a year, was opposed by law enforcement officials, Gov. Gray Davis (D) and "scores" of drug court judges "who complained that the measure carried too few sanctions for offenders who relapse" (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 11/8). Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) expressed concern that the measure would "place too many restrictions on judges' ability to deal with lower-level drug offenders" (Sacramento Bee, 11/7). Supporters of the measure outspent opponents by a $2.8 million to $440,000 margin (Warren, Los Angeles Times, 11/8).