Senate Public Safety Committee Members Debate Strengthening Proposition 36

Press Release April 18, 2005
Media Contact

Glenn Backes at (916) 202-2538 or Simeon Gant at (916) 202-1636

SACRAMENTO – Senate Bill 556 (Migden), a measure drafted to improve the outcomes of Proposition 36, passed Senate Public Safety Committee today.

“We are very excited about this bill,” said Glenn Backes, Director of Health Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, “The provisions in the bill will prevent crime, save the state money and provide more adequate drug treatment.”

The bill targets available funds for drug treatment in order to reduce the number of addicts being jailed.

Proposition 36 passed in 2000 with 61% of California voters. It was named the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA). Each year, over 10,000 people successfully completed treatment since its implementation. As a result 7,337 fewer people are imprisoned in state prisons for drug possession.

Dave Fratello, Political Director of the Campaign For New Drug Policies said, “What Proposition 36 needs is more money targeted for treatment. The program works. Now let’s expand it.”

Another legislation sponsored by law enforcement and Proposition 36 opponents was held in committee today pending further review. SB 803 (Ducheny) proposes jail time for first and second-time offenders; a provision that runs contrary to the core component of SACPA.

“Not only would SB 803 costs Californians millions of dollars in incarceration costs, but it would force jails to release more serious offenders to alleviate overcrowding,” Backes continued, “California voters made it clear that they want addiction to be treated as a health issue instead of a criminal justice one. Senator Ducheny is trying to overrule the public will.”

The final passing vote was 4-2 along party lines, with Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland), Public Safety Chair Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara) and Senator Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) voting in support of Migden’s bill. Republican Senators Poochigian (R-Fresno) and Margett (R-Arcadia) were absent in the debate, but were recorded as voting no for SB 556.

The bill now moves on to Senate Appropriations Committee.

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

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