Pubdate: Mon, 13 Nov 2000
Source: Union, The (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Nevada County Publishing, Inc.
Contact:  11464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA, 95945
Fax: (530) 477-4292
Author: Stephen Munkelt
Bookmark: For Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act items


I was quite disappointed to see the mean-spirited response to the
passage of Proposition 36 by our local "drug warriors." In particular,
it is hard to grasp why the District Attorney, as an elected official,
would insult 60 percent of the voters by suggesting they "didn't read
the damn law."

The voters seem to understand that the punitive approach to drug abuse
has costs beyond what the community is willing to pay. Ultimately, the
"war" is against our sons and daughters, parents, and friends who have
become involved with drugs. Placing them in prison or jail costs us
hundreds of millions per year in taxes, and removes them from families
and communities where they could be making positive contributions if
they can just stay sober. The voters also understand that when people
are released after months or years in custody, there is no follow-up
to deal with the drug/alcohol problems: just an order not to use them,
with more custody time if they fall off the wagon.

Every study comparing treatment with incarceration says the treatment
model reduces costs dramatically, and reduces the damage to families
of users. This is true even for the individuals who repeatedly fail in
treatment until they finally "recover."

Implementation of the new treatment plan won't be easy. There will be
challenges at each step in setting up programs and following through
with treatment. Resistance from DAs, drug enforcement agents, drug
court supervisors and others who owe their jobs and income to "the
war" will make it harder. However, given time and attention,
Proposition 36 programs will surely reward all of us with a more
productive and positive community environment, at less cost to the
taxpayers. My thanks to every voter who saw through the rhetoric to
support change!

Stephen Munkelt, Nevada City
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake