Pubdate: Tue, 24 Oct 2000
Source: Bakersfield Californian (CA)
Copyright: 2000, The Bakersfield Californian.
Contact:  PO Box 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302-0440
Author: Bruce Jones
Bookmark: For Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act items: 


The Californian has printed recent statements against the Drug Treatment
Initiative (Proposition 36). I am on the National Advisory Board of
Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy. We are
concerned that America spends more on a bloody drug war in Columbia than on
drug treatment.

Proposition 36 is about treatment, not about drug dealers. It is about
first-time offenders who possess small amounts of drugs for their own use;
nonviolent offenders. They would be sentenced to parole and treatment,
instead of state prison. Parole violators can be sent to prison without a
new trial.

If California passes this initiative, we will help to tip the balance toward
more treatment and fewer prisons. It will help counties pay for drug
treatment -- $660 million in new money will be earmarked for substance abuse

The good news is that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst estimates that
state and local government will save far more than that by reducing costs
for operating jails and prisons and reducing construction of new prisons.

Prisons are now a major growth industry in Kern County, but experience has
shown that prison terms do not solve our terrible drug problem. Most inmates
are in prison for drug-related offenses, and -- once there -- they receive
too little treatment.

Kern County needs more jobs, but I would prefer those jobs to be in drug
treatment rather than in more correctional officers. Let us treat people
before they become addicts and before they go to prison.

Bruce Jones, Bakersfield
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