SACRAMENTO, May 14 -- In response to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's revised state budget proposal released today, drug treatment advocates noted the under funding of California's voter-approved, treatment-instead-of-incarceration law.
The May revise left intact the governor's January proposal, which proposes slashing Prop. 36 funding by $25 million to $120 million, and requiring that half of the funding ($60 million) be dispersed through the "Offender Treatment Program"--a separate funding stream subject to all the requirements and protections of the program, but which also requires $1-$9 county matching and a redundant application process.
Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, "Researchers continue to tell us that, to improve Prop. 36 outcomes and taxpayer savings, Prop. 36 services need to be expanded so that participants get the care they need to achieve real, lasting success. Now that the budget is in the legislators' hands, we hope they will recognize that counties cannot provide more and better services with fewer resources."
In a recent analysis, researchers at UCLA found that Prop. 36 requires at least $228.6 million--$109 million more than the current proposal--to provide minimal, adequate treatment and to generate even greater cost savings. Researchers found that average stays in treatment are shorter in Prop. 36 than in similar systems because the program is under-funded. Also, many people receive inadequate, less expensive treatment placements and have little probation supervision during their stays.
Dr Ralph Armstrong, an addiction specialist in Ventura and a former psychiatrist for Prop. 36 in Ventura County, said, "My own experience shows, and all the scientific evidence out there supports the conclusion, that addiction is treatable. It is imperative to fund Prop. 36 drug treatment adequately in order to give people the treatment services they need."
Nikos Leverenz, director of the Drug Policy Alliance Sacramento office, said, "We are glad that the governor recognized the importance of Prop. 36 in saving taxpayers substantial sums of money while also turning around tens of thousands of lives. We hope that the Legislature will build upon that commitment in order to meet actual drug treatment needs."
For more information on Prop. 36, visit: www.Prop36.org