The Real Truth
As you might already be aware there is a ballot initiative on this upcoming November’s election about drugs, and drug treatment. This measure is called Proposition 36. If this measure were to pass, state law would be changed, so that certain non-violent adult offenders who use or possess illegal drugs would receive drug treatment and supervision in the community, not prison. Right now California is ranked number one in the nation for its rate of imprisonment for drug offenders. If Proposition 36 passes, California could become number one for its treatment for drug offenders. The measure also provides state funds to counties to operate the drug treatment programs. Additionally, studies have shown that drug treatment is a far more effective than prison in reducing future criminal activity. Robert Roseman, a 51-year-old heroin addict from Sacramento says, “I was always able to get drugs in prisonall you’re going to learn in prison is to do crime better.”
Stephen V. Manley, President of Drug Court Professionals says that,
“Proposition 36 doesn’t provide “court-supervised” drug treatment. It ties the hands of judges, hurts legitimate treatment and effectively decriminalizes heroin, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs. Drug courts hold drug abusers accountable with regular drug testing and consequences for failing treatment accountability not found in Proposition 36.”
Drug testing is a part of court-supervised drug treatment everywhere in California today, and it will continue to be under Proposition 36. There are no legal barriers to drug testing. Judges can and will order appropriate levels of testing of offenders placed in treatment under the initiative’s system; Proposition 36 simply does not tie judges’ hands by prescribing a one-size-fits-all regimen for all offenders. A positive drug test can be treated as a violation of probation. Judges can also require individual offenders to pay for their own drug testing, as they do now in the “drug court” system, if they can afford it. (The cost of a test can be $4 to $7 per test.) The fact is tens of millions of dollars in state and federal funds already go to drug testing of criminal offenders through the court system and probation system. If more money is needed, this can easily be appropriated from the hundreds of millions of dollars saved each year by this initiative. Proposition 36 merely requires that its monetary appropriation for treatment programs must go to providing treatment services, where the need is so great. Those opposed to the November ballot, like former California Director of Finance Jesse Huff say otherwise,
“Proposition 36 spends $660 million in tax money, but prohibits any of this money from being used for drug testing. Testing is vital because it holds drug abusers accountable during treatment. Without testing, there is no way to prove treatment is working.”
Obviously you can tell that former California Finance Director Jesse Huff does not have his facts straight. Although Huff warns that the ” ultimate cost of this initiative is far higher than its promised savings.” When in all actuality net savings to the state are reported to be around $100 million to $150 million annually. Which in the long run turns out to be more cost effective then the drug court systems we have now.
Robert Nalett, Vice President California Sexual Assault Investigators Association says,
“Proposition 36 is not limited to “nonviolent” drug users. Persons convicted of possessing “date rape” drugs can remain on the street under Proposition 36even those with prior convictions for sex crimes like rape and child molesting. Proposition 36 also lets drug abusers with a history of criminal violence remain free, including those with prior convictions for murder, child abuse, assault and other violent crimes. Under Proposition 36, they cannot be sent to jail, no matter how violent their criminal history.”
Not true, The act of drugging another person, or committing a sexual assault, constitutes a crime separate from drug possession for personal use. No one who commits another crime is eligible for diversion to a drug treatment program for their drug possession offense. If a person is merely caught in possession of a “date rape” drug, before committing a rape, that person is still not eligible. This initiative only applies to people who are convicted of “unlawful possession, use or transportation for personal use” of any controlled substance. Not one who possesses a drug for distribution, or to use to enable sexual assault, is eligible for diversion to treatment. On August 11, Proposition 36 opponents were forced to remove a statement from their ballot pamphlet materials in which they made this allegation, because a judge found it to be false and misleading. Judge Lloyd Connelly deleted an argument saying “sex offenders” with so-called “date rape” drugs could avoid jail if the initiative passes, “even though their drugs were intended for victims, not themselves.” Despite this, many opponents continue to rehash it. Furthermore, No parolee who has any prior convictions for a serious or violent felony will be eligible for diversion to drug treatment, rather than prison, for a positive drug test or other drug offense. California law already contains comprehensive, specific lists of such felonies, which are referenced by the text of Proposition 36. Quite simply, the initiative’s parole diversion section excludes: “any parolee who has been convicted of one or more serious or violent felonies in violation of Penal Code sections 667.5(c) or 1192.7” Sec. 6(b)(1).
Opposition of Proposition 36 also says that,
“the initiative includes no safeguards or licensing guidelines to ensure these programs are effective. This opens the door to fraud, abuse and “fly-by-night” half-way houses run by people interested in money, not results. Programs offering nothing more than cassette tapes or Internet “chat rooms” could qualify for tax money.”
Three levels of government have a role under Proposition 36 in ensuring that drug offenders are only sent into quality programs. First, all treatment programs must be licensed and certified by the state Alcohol and Drug Programs office. Next, counties receive the funds provided by the initiative, and county officials will decide which programs to pay for. Finally, judges decide which treatment programs drug offenders must complete. With these safeguards in place, there is no reason to believe slipshod programs will flourish under Proposition 36.
You have read my detailed report focusing on the “myths” if Proposition 36 is passed, now you’ll hear it from my perspective, as a young adult in this ever changing society. Proposition 36 seems like the best thing for society today. Many don’t realize that prisons today are overcrowded with non-violent and most first time drug offenders. To quote my favorite band 311,
“Graffix bong, sing along with a cry of a mandatory sentence for a crime with no victim, when everyone knows jail terms should be picked in order of the pain they cause, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law, until you violate the rights of another, respect the space of your sister and your brother. The war on drugs may be well intentioned but it falls fucking flat when you stop to mention, the overcrowded prisons where a rapist gets paroled to make room for a dude who has sold a pound of weed to me that’s a crime, here’s to good people doin’ time y’all.”
That right there sums up every single feeling I have in my body about this initiative. The war on drugs is a futile one, and I firmly believe that. Whether you outlaw it or not people will still be doing it. Hopefully now they’ll be doing it without the fear of going to prison. I know I’ll feel much safer after this measure is passed. Please vote Yes on Proposition 36, not just for yourself but for our future.