Treatment Instead of Jail Initiative Supporters Go Back To Court
Nearly 80% of DC Voters Favor the Measure
Supporters of Measure 62, the "treatment instead of jail" initiative which received 78% of the vote in the November election, filed a Motion to Reconsider the ruling on Wednesday, February 26, 2003 with DC Superior Court Judge Jeanette Clark. The Judge had ruled that the measure was not a proper subject for an initiative on the technical grounds that it required the District to allocate funds. A Motion to Reconsider is an unusual, though not unprecedented legal maneuver, which essentially requests the judge to clarify her ruling.
"We still believe that the city has a chance to make a difference in the District's addiction and incarceration crisis. Seventy-eight percent of the voters wanted this measure implemented," said William McColl, President of the D.C. Campaign for Treatment which sponsored the measure. "We are heading back to court to keep faith with our supporters and to ensure that the will of the voters is not overturned," 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. 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.
Lawyers for the initiative were positive about their chances for a new ruling. "This is a technical issue. We truly don't think that this measure requires the city to allocate funds and this motion is just asking Judge Clark to look a bit closer at our reasoning," said Julie Carpenter, a lawyer for Measure 62 supporters adding, "If our initiative is construed to require funding, it's hard to believe that any initiative can work."