California Is Broke — You Still Have the Right to Avoid Prison


Santa Cruz just became the latest county to announce it would “end” treatment-instead-of-incarceration program for low-level drug offenses because of a lack of funding.
February 17, 2011 |AlterNet
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Santa Cruz just became the latest county to announce it would “end” CA‘s Proposition 36 treatment-instead-of-incarceration program for low-level drug offenses because of a lack of funding. This terminology is confusing and misleading – even for those who should know better.

Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, was approved by 61% of California voters in 2000 – and it can only be undone by the voters. That is, it doesn’t “end” simply because the state and county aren’t funding alcohol and drug treatment.

Counties that deny Prop 36 participants access to adequate drug treatment, such as by providing support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) rather than licensed care, provide grounds for each defendant to bring suit. Just as importantly, California courts simply cannot remand people to jail or prison for a petty drug offense if that defendant is eligible for and opts into probation under Prop 36.

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One thought on “California Is Broke — You Still Have the Right to Avoid Prison

  1. As long as prisons rely upon public funding, they will always revert to the minimum treatment and care. If they are self-sustaining, as early prison reformer Zebulon Brockway believed, they have a chance to rehabilitate and teach job skills. The new 438-page non-fiction book, “Prison & Slavery – A Surprising Comparison,” criticizes the expense, ineffectiveness, destructiveness, scale and waste of modern incarceration in the U.S. It compares and contrasts antebellum slavery with modern incarceration (state slavery) and proposes racially neutral, market-oriented, faith-friendly reforms. The surprise is that antebellum slavery was not as bad, and modern incarceration is far worse, than most realize today. Almost 400 former slaves are quoted and their names appear in bold throughout the book. For sale on Amazon.com (paperback, Kindle & free “Look Inside” feature) http://www.amazon.com/dp/1432753835 and the other internet bookstores.

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