Pubdate: Sat, 26 Aug 2000
Source: Record, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Record
Contact:  P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201
Fax: (209) 547-8186
Author: Timothy R. Holloway Sr.


If passed, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 
(Proposition 36) will do just as the name implies. Kudos to Record 
columnist Michael Fitzgerald for supporting a change in the system that is 
long overdue.

There are some people opposed to Proposition 36 who spout statistics and 
reasoning that are misleading, if not untrue. What Eric Dutemple Jr. of 
Riverbank obviously fails to realize is that our judges will not be 
"stripped of power to incarcerate individuals for noncompliance of drug 
treatment conditions." Treatment will be court-ordered as a condition of 
probation. Failure to comply would be a violation of probation, a felony in 
and of itself that carries the possibility of a county jail or state prison 
term. So there will be "accountability and consequences for those who do 
not comply with the rules."

It is also not true that "California taxpayers will have to spend $120 
million for new drug programs. At least that much will be saved by not 
housing, feeding and clothing the 20,000 people currently in state prison 
for simple possession of drugs. And at least another $1 billion will be 
saved by delaying the construction of new prisons and forestalling the many 
paychecks of the extremely high paid personnel needed to staff them.

Prisons were meant for violent criminals, not to be used as part of "the 
most successful drug treatment program in California, (drug courts)."

Which brings me to the worst propaganda scare tactic to be used in quite 
some time: What do paroled murderers (there hasn't been one since the 
1970s) have to do with a person who has a treatable disease?

And "child molesters" are rarely, if ever, drug addicts.

"Violent crimes involving drugs" are still violent crimes, and will be 
punished as such. Dutemple also says that drug possessors should have a 
fair chance at beating their hideous addiction. Does he feel that's being 
done in state prison with no treatment and plenty of illegal drugs to be 
had by all?

The only people who could truly be opposed to Proposition 36 are those who 
benefit financially from the state's high incarceration rate.

My hope, unlike Dutemple's, is that the Record readers and all citizens of 
California will see passage of Proposition 36 not as a turning back of the 
clock on justice reform, but as the progressive step forward that it really 
will be in savings to taxpayers, in the rehabilitation of human lives -- 
and in the reduction of crime.

Timothy R. Holloway Sr., Jamestown
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