Governor Martinez Has Only One More Day to Take Action on the Treatment-Instead-of-Incarceration Bill

Press Release April 6, 2011
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach at 505-920-5256</p>

Santa Fe – Governor Martinez has yet to take action on the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act that was passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support.  This bill proposes appropriate community-based treatment, instead of incarceration, for non-violent drug possession offenders and people with drug-related probation or parole violations.  

"Governor Martinez needs to make the right decision for New Mexico families and sign this bill." said Emily Kaltenbach, State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico. "As a past District Attorney, Governor Martinez knows that providing treatment alternatives to incarceration would improve public safety by freeing up resources so the criminal justice system can more effectively deal with serious violent crime."

Incarcerating people for nonviolent drug offenses has never worked as a solution to drug crime or drug addiction, and it is time to invest in better options.

Similar legislation passed by other states has proven to be a cost-effective, common-sense solution to treat addiction as a health issue, not a criminal one.  Offering treatment instead of incarceration would enhance public safety by reducing drug-related crime and preserving jail and prison space for violent offenders.

In 2007 alone, New Mexico spent 22 million dollars to incarcerate nonviolent drug possession offenders – that doesn't even include other drug offenses such as drug dealing, manufacturing or trafficking.  A national study by the Justice Policy Institute shows that community-based drug treatment provides bigger crime reduction returns than prison–for every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community, a state receives $18 in benefits. 

People in New Mexico and nationally support a shift away from incarceration and towards treatment for drug offenders.  According to a 2007 poll, 71% of New Mexican voters supported treatment instead of incarceration for people with drug addictions.

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.

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

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