Press Release  | 01/09/2003

Treatment Instead of Jail Supporters Defend Measure 62 Initiative In DC Superior Court Friday

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Mayor Urged to Work with Initiative Supporters on Addiction and Incarceration Crisis
Almost 80% of DC Voters Favor the Measure

Washington DC- Jan 9, 2003. Supporters of Measure 62, the "treatment instead of jail" initiative which received 78% of the vote in the November election, will be back in court on Friday, January 10 to defend the measure in DC Superior Court (courtroom 117, 2:30 pm). The supporters expect Judge Jeanette Clark to extend their string of legal and legislative victories in the District by ruling that Measure 62 is a proper subject for an initiative. Mayor Anthony Williams filed suit on the grounds that the Measure impermissibly requires the District to allocate and expend funds. In a previous ruling against the Mayor, Judge Clark declined to issue an injunction and questioned whether the District could prevail on its claim. In previous activity, City Council Chair Linda Cropp, expressed support for Measure 62 and stated that she would help supporters work to find funding for the Measure.

"We're ready to work with the Mayor to deal with the incarceration and addiction crisis we have in this city," says Opio Sokoni, the implementation coordinator for the measure. "We are already working hard to find funding for Measure 62 which will help people to get treatment in the District to deal with their addictions, allow them to remain in contact with their families and help keep children out of foster care," he added.

If implemented, Measure 62 will require judges to allow eligible non-violent drug defendants to be placed in treatment for 12 months, instead of incarceration. "The only thing people learn in jail is to go back," says Carmelita Witherspoon, widely known as DC's "Mother of Recovery". Other treatment instead of jail measures have been passed in California and Arizona, saving taxpayers millions of dollars and significantly decreasing the states' prison population.

Supporters also noted that recent media reports have shown that states are beginning to review their laws which lock up nonviolent, low level drug offenders. "Most states are in a funding crisis causing them to reevaluate their expensive and irresponsible lock 'em up policies," said Bill McColl, President of the DC Campaign for Treatment. "District voters are already steps ahead of the states and we're looking forward to Mayor Williams working with us to find funding and to make sure that District residents have the best access to treatment."


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Shayna Samuels at 646-523-6961 or Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

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