Law enforcement, civil rights and treatment communities met for a press conference today to urge voters to vote "Yes" on Measure 62
, an initiative that would allow certain non-violent drug offenders to receive access to treatment instead of jail.
A radio ad featuring Reverend Jesse Jackson was also released at today's press conference, which will air on local stations. "Right now, too many people in our communities, who haven't committed any other crimes, are being jailed for simple drug use," Reverend Jackson says in the ad. "Mothers and fathers are taken from homes, and children are abandoned to the foster care system...; Measure 62 will save money as it helps to restore the health and future of our communities."
Measure 62 is modeled after Arizona's Proposition 200, which passed in 1996, and California's Proposition 36, which passed in 2000. Both of these initiatives are being implemented successfully, with thousands of people being diverted into treatment and millions of taxpayer dollars being saved. In fact, an Arizona Supreme Court study found that Proposition 200 had saved taxpayers more than $6 million in prison costs during its second year of implementation. Likewise, the California's Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that Proposition 36 will divert more than 30,000 drug offenders per year into treatment, saving California taxpayers approximately $1.5 billion over the next five years. In addition, California has increased the number of licensed and certified substance abuse slots by 68%.
"DC voters know that what we're doing now is not working," said Opio Sokoni, Measure 62 campaign coordinator. "We are wasting money by locking people up without treating the root of the problem. Measure 62 can help break the cycle of addiction and incarceration."
Today's press conference took place at Our Place DC, a re-entry center whose mission is to provide women who have been in the criminal justice system the support and resources they need to resettle in the community, reunite with their families, and find decent housing and jobs. Susan Galbraith, the founder and executive director of the center, said: "We support this initiative because treatment is the most effective intervention for reducing non-violent drug related offenses and building strong families and communities."
Other press conference speakers included: Ron Hampton from the National Black Police Association, Greg Moore from the NAACP National Voter Fund, Angela Arboleda from National Council of La Raza, Joe Leonard from the DC Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Arthur Rico Rush of the Alliance of Concerned Men, William McColl from DC Campaign for Treatment, and Barbara Hardy, who spoke about her own harrowing experience with drug addiction.
If passed, Measure 62 would: