CA Law Offers Treatment to 36,000 Nonviolent, Low-level Drug Offenders
Al Gore III, the 24-year-old son of the former vice president, is facing more than three years in prison for simple drug possession following an arrest in Southern California earlier this month. Advocates call for Gore to receive what most nonviolent, low-level drug offenders in California do--community-based treatment instead of incarceration under Prop. 36, passed by 61% of voters in 2000. The DA of Orange County will determine Gore's eligibility for the program in the next couple of weeks.
Margaret Dooley, Prop. 36 Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance, said, "It is a tragedy when anyone enters the criminal justice system--rather than the healthcare system--because of drug use. Thanks to Prop. 36, people in California can address those problems, without adding the trauma and stigma of incarceration. We hope the court will find that Gore is one of the tens of thousands who could benefit from Prop. 36 this year."
Over 36,000 people--famous and not--benefit from Prop. 36 each year. Daniel Baldwin, brother of Alec Baldwin, last week told Larry King that Prop. 36 intervened in his long-term cocaine addiction and allowed him to access the treatment he needed. His story is similar to that of Rudy Mendez, a not-so-famous resident of San Diego, who entered Prop. 36 to treat his long-term addiction to heroin, and has been sober for five years. Both men are now spokesmen for recovery and work with others to spread the news that "Recovery Happens!" and that one way to get there is Prop. 36.
Gore's arrest and Baldwin's interview come just as the California Senate considers cutting funding to Prop. 36, in exchange for hefty tax breaks for large corporations. Advocates say the plan to cut funding to the life-saving and cost-effective program is a slap in the face of California voters.
In 2000, 61 % of California voters approved Prop. 36, permanently changing state law so that all eligible nonviolent drug possession offenders must be given the option of state-licensed treatment. In just six years, over 70,000 Californians have graduated Prop. 36 and taxpayers have saved $1.8 billion. For more information, visit www.Prop36.org
To see Larry King interview Daniel Baldwin about his addiction and Prop. 36, visit this link