California Society of Addiction Medicine Endorses Proposition 5: Treatment Community Unifying Behind Measure

Press Release October 19, 2008
Media Contact

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

SACRAMENTO, October 20 — The California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM) has endorsed Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act. The association of physicians specializing in addiction treatment will be discussing the measure at their annual gathering in Newport Beach this week. Prop. 5 would significantly expand access to drug treatment for young people, nonviolent offenders and California’s prison and parole populations.

Dr. Judy Martin, president of CSAM, said, “We have tried incarceration as a primary response to addictive illness for decades and it has failed utterly. Prop. 5 marks a historic shift towards a treatment approach for nonviolent drug offenses. Decades of research and experience show that addiction responds very well to treatment. By reducing addictive behavior, treatment also reduces drug-motivated crime. Now is the time for our policies to reflect that fact. Prop. 5 will bring our response to addiction in line with the science, while protecting public safety.”

Dr Martin continued, “Successful addiction treatment holds individuals accountable for their behavior. Prop. 5 gets that right, too, by incorporating sanctions in the community and jail sanctions. Prop. 5 enhances the court’s authority to determine who should and shouldn’t participate in court-supervised treatment and to hold those people accountable during treatment.”

California spends $10 billion each year to operate state prisons, but little of that money goes to treatment or rehabilitation for inmates. According to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, more than 140,000 of the 170,000 people in prison in California have a drug problem.

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

Dr. Martin continued, “California cannot continue with its failed policies toward addiction. Now is the time to invest in what we know works to reduce addiction-motivated crime — drug treatment.”

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

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