Pubdate: Sun, 03 Dec 2000
Date: 12/03/2000
Source: Record, The (CA)
Author: Marlo D'Angeli

It is clear that in recent years, there was a lot wrong with the way
that California and the nation dealt with the misery of widespread
drug abuse. It became clear with the passage of Proposition 36 that
many Californians are aware that the emphasis on penal punishment was
part of the problem of drug abuse -- not the solution.

However, from all the factual evidence, it is also clear that the
system of drug courts in California has been a shining light in a
dark-and-dreary picture. The facts show that drug courts are effective
and successful, and we need more of them.

Experts in the field know that for many addicts a combination of the
carrot-and-the-stick/love-and-care approach -- combined with authority
-- is the only way that positive change can occur.

If Proposition 36 is to succeed, drug courts, as an integral part of
the Proposition 36 strategy, should be greatly expanded -- not eliminated.

Although some proponents of Proposition 36 oppose drug courts, they
lack the knowledge and skill to implement and administer the policy
and program that can achieve their own goals.

They have made a powerful political statement. They should remain
watchdogs regarding goal achievement. But they must not usurp the role
of social scientists and therapists who agree with their objectives
and who have the relevant expertise and responsibility to do the work
that obtains results.

The drug court is necessary as the glue that keeps the addict, who
would otherwise relapse repeatedly, attached to the program -- thus
preventing a tragic and expensive waste of human and economic
resources. Many addicts tell you this. Many recovering addicts admit

New York has embarked on exactly this approach by integrating the
Proposition 36 way and the drug court way into a powerful strategy for
maximum success.

Let us take a closer look at the New York model. Then let us rapidly
develop our own California model. California political leaders now
have the opportunity and duty to respond decisively to the voters by
steering Proposition 36 toward creative public policy.

Let them hear from you. We do not have the time or the money to

Marlo D'Angeli,