Bay Area Legislators Call Prop. 5 Much-Needed, Just-in-Time Reform

Press Release November 2, 2008
Media Contact

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli at (213) 291-4190 or Tommy McDonald at

Bay Area legislators today announced support for Proposition 5, echoing the endorsement of the State Democratic Party. Highlighting the cost savings of treatment not incarceration programs, Assemblymembers Beall, Lieber and Leno called on voters to approve the much-needed treatment expansion and prison reform.

Assemblyman Jim Beall, of San Jose, said, “By failing to directly address the problem of addiction, California has taken a one-sided, punitive and costly approach — incarceration. Little funding goes to the most cost-effective approach that stops the cycle of addiction: prevention and early intervention for our youth. In this time of economic crisis, we need an effective approach to combat the disease of addiction rather than continuing to fund an ineffective incarceration-first policy.”

Assembly Member Sally Lieber, of Silicon Valley, said, “The state’s worsening prison overcrowding and ballooning budget deficits are not separate crises. They are intimately related. Until we address our failed prison policies, we will only see our budget problems increase. That’s why Prop. 5 is the right thing for California. It will usher in more effective and affordable responses to nonviolent drug offenses — and stop pouring taxpayer money down the drain of the bloated prison system.”

Assembly Member Mark Leno, of San Francisco, said, “California can’t afford to kick the can down the road any longer. If we don’t address our broken prison system, it will drain our state coffers at a time when we most need to spend cautiously. For better public safety and better use of taxpayer dollars, we need real prison and sentencing reform. Prop. 5 brings that reform to California just in time — when we really can’t wait any longer.”

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office found that Prop. 5 will lower incarceration costs by $1 billion each year and save taxpayers $2.5 billion in reduced prison-construction costs. This doesn’t include savings related to reduced crime, fewer social services costs (e.g. emergency room visits, child protective services, welfare), and increased individual productivity.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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