Gabriel Sayegh at (646) 335-2264 or Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384
Health advocates and treatment providers were shocked to learn that New York Governor Paterson is cutting $8.6 million from its substance abuse programs in response to the state’s current budget crisis.
“This is penny wise and pound foolish and exactly the opposite of what the governor should be doing,” said Howard Josepher, President of the Exponents treatment programs. “Treatment is less expensive and more effective than the lock-them-up strategy that costs taxpayers $29,000 per person to incarcerate someone with an addiction. Treatment also offers a better opportunity to prevent recidivism”
The Rockefeller Drug Laws have been a miserable failure. These draconian laws have not delivered on their promise to rid our streets of drugs or keep people from using them, but they have drained New York of hundreds of millions of dollars and destroyed tens of thousands of lives. Treatment providers, family members, policy experts and newspaper editorials have been calling for change for years but have been stifled due to Republican control of the State Senate and the lack of leadership from Governors Pataki and Spitzer. When Gov. Paterson took over there was an expectation that there might be reform of these laws as the governor has been a long-time voice for change of the laws.
“The time is right to move from away from inhumane, costly and ineffective mass incarceration to a health approach to our drug problems,” said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Democrats have a majority of the Senate, Assembly and the Governorship. Helping people with drug problems get community based treatment instead of jail does not cost money, it saves money. The governor is in the difficult position of needing to cut programs and costs. Reforming the drug laws is a rare win-win: you can save hundreds of millions of dollars and help keep families together.”