D.C. City Council Vows Support <br> Cost-Effective Treatment Will Save Millions in Incarceration Costs; Mayor Urged to Respect the Will of the Voters and Drop Lawsuit
In the coming weeks, the U.S. Congress will decide whether or not Measure 62 will become law, directing hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders into treatment rather than jail. Following the approval of 78% of DC voters in November, Congress has 60 working days to disapprove the measure or it will become law.
"We are optimistic that Congress will do the right thing," said Opio Sokoni, coordinator for Measure 62 implementation. "Voters in the district have shown that nonviolent drug users deserve treatment, not incarceration. It is up to Congress to support the will of the voters and provide funding for much-needed treatment slots."
Meanwhile, the DC City Council voiced support for Congress to appropriate funding for treatment. The Chairperson of the DC Council has emphasized her strong support and urged her colleagues on the council to work with sponsors of the initiative to have Federal cost savings from non-incarceration transferred to the District budget for the initiative. Council members, as well as other supporters, anticipate that money spent on treatment will save millions of dollars in incarceration and other criminal justice costs, as similar initiatives in Arizona and California have done in recent years.
As Measure 62 moves through Congress and towards becoming law, DC Mayor Anthony Williams is being urged to drop his law suit against the measure. A previous suit from the mayor seeking a temporary restraining order against the measure was defeated, and lawyers for the mayor have been advised that his current suit will likely be defeated as well.
"It is reassuring to see the City Council move forward and encourage Congress to approve Measure 62," said Sokoni. "As the measure sustains its momentum, DC continues to move closer to a sensible, health-driven approach to non-violent drug offenders while enhancing the safety of all individuals in the District."