Pubdate: Fri, 06 Apr 2001
Source: Redding Record Searchlight (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Redding Record Searchlight - E.W. Scripps
Bookmark: (Substance Abuse and Crime 
Prevention Act)


Shasta County officials are doing what the voters of California wanted. 
They're laying the groundwork for expanded drug treatment services, and we 
wish them luck with this program. We are less than enthusiastic about it, 
but the law is the law, and this is now the law of the land.

The Board of Supervisors this week approved the hiring of nine new 
employees and gave county officials permission to begin searching for an 
office, with costs covered by the voter-approved Proposition 36. This is 
the statewide initiative that steers adult drug offenders away from jail or 
prison and into substance-abuse programs.

We didn't like the measure (and voters in Shasta County rejected it by a 
margin of 55 percent to 45 percent in November) in large part because we 
believe some offenders, such as drug dealers, should be confined behind 
bars instead of simply being "sentenced" to drug classes. Incarceration 
with rehabilitation is a better combination. We're all in favor of more 
drug treatment programs, and that's what we're going to get.

We're walking on new ground here and many questions have to be answered 
along the way. A 14-member planning committee is guiding the county and 
trying to make a smooth transition. "It's going to change the criminal 
justice system," said David Reiten, committee chairman and director of the 
county's alcohol and drug programs, in underscoring the impact of the 

Among the new employees will be three substance abuse counselors who will 
screen and assess defendants before making recommendations to a judge. In 
felony cases, counselors and probation officers will do the evaluations. 
County officials would like to set up an office in The Mall in downtown 
Redding near the Community Corrections Center, where related services 
already are provided by the Probation Department.

Somewhat reassuring is the fact that two new probation officers will be 
hired to keep track of Proposition 36 clients. Under the measure, probation 
officers will be prevented from arresting participants if they have dirty 
drug tests, but they can take offenders into custody if they are found with 
drugs, said outgoing Chief Probation Officer Renny Noll. "We're going to 
make them as accountable as we can under the circumstances," he said.

Soon, the county will circulate requests for proposals to attract private 
drug treatment providers. The county has a deadline of July 1 to get the 
program in gear, which isn't a whole lot of time.

Questions remain over whether there's sufficient funding from the state and 
if the operation will be adequate to satisfy demand. We wish the county 
well in getting the program quickly off the ground. One thing is for sure: 
Without teamwork among the county agencies, the program itself could overdose.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D