Pubdate: Fri, 03 Nov 2000
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Press Democrat
Contact:  Letters Editor, P. O. Box 569, Santa Rosa CA 95402
Fax: (707) 521-5305
Author: Kumari Sivadas
Bookmark: For Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act items:


EDITOR: A yes vote on Proposition 36 means treatment instead of prison for 
first and second time offenders charged with simple possession of drugs. 
Violent criminals, dealers and those arrested for multiple offenses would 
be excluded.

Opponents argue the initiative is poorly written. Not true. Proposition 36 
was modeled after the highly successful initiative passed in Arizona in 
1996. The Arizona Supreme Court reports the program worked well and Arizona 
saved millions of dollars choosing treatment over jail. (Prison costs 
taxpayers $25,000 per year, while treatment costs $5,000 per year.) The 
report states that 71 percent of the illegal drug users were drug-free two 
years after treatment.

Proposition 36 means substance abusers will get the help they need. It 
expands services for nonviolent addicted persons by creating a statewide 
diversion system in California. Presently, these programs only serve 2 
percent to 5 percent of those who need treatment. Savings to taxpayers may 
be $1.5 billion over five years. Let's treat drug offenders rather than 
punishing and jailing them as criminals. By voting yes on 36, you can help 
treat drug addicts, thereby saving lives and reducing crime, and save our 
state hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Check the facts at

Kumari Sivadas, Sebastopol
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