New Report Details How California’s Landmark Treatment Instead of Incarceration “Proposition 36” Initiative Saves Lives, Taxpayer Money

Press Release March 6, 2006
Media Contact

James May at (916) 444-3751 or Dave Fratello at (310) 451-2522

Proposition 36, which mandates treatment instead of incarceration for most people convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses, will help 60,000 Californians to successfully complete substance abuse treatment in the program’s first five years, according to a new report by the Drug Policy Alliance.

Without Prop. 36, many would never have had a chance at recovery, and would instead have languished behind bars, says the report, Proposition 36: Improving Lives, Delivering Results, a comprehensive examination of California’s first four years under Prop. 36.

Dave Fratello, a co-author of Prop. 36, said, “Prop. 36 is the most significant sentencing reform since the repeal of alcohol Prohibition. The results show how much good we can do by treating addiction as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue.”

Fratello went on to say: “This report shows how Prop. 36 has delivered on its promises. Treatment works, and it is far less expensive than jail time. To make a good thing better, we need to be sure there is adequate money for treatment in the future.”

Nikos Leverenz, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s capital office in Sacramento explained, “Gov. Schwarzenegger’s call to keep funding at 1999 levels is actually a cut because you have to factor inflation as well as expanding treatment services. We now have data to show the real impact of Prop. 36, as well as the real needs going forward. To keep faith with the voters, legislators must find the money to protect and expand Prop. 36. Every new dollar we put in saves lives and money in the long run.”

Among the report’s key findings announced today:

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

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