Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2003
Source: Daily Bruin (CA Edu)
Copyright: 2003, ASUCLA Student Media
Author: Jennifer Haake
Bookmark: (Treatment)


The first results of a UCLA study released last week show that
California taxpayers are saving more money than expected due to
Proposition 36, which gives first- and second-time drug offenders the
option of rehabilitation with probation instead of jail time.

According to a press release from the Drug Policy Alliance, a national
organization which supports rehabilitation over incarceration, the
results of the UCLA study mean that roughly $275 million was saved in
the first year Proposition 36 went into effect.

The study covered 58 counties and was conducted by the UCLA Integrated
Substance Abuse Program, which is part of UCLA's Neuropsychiatric
Institute. Bill Zimmerman, who managed the campaign for Proposition 36
when Californians voted on it in 2000, said the State Office of the
Legislative Analyst originally estimated the Proposition could save
$250 million after several years.

The Legislative Analyst's Office provides nonpartisan fiscal and
policy advice to the legislature.

"(They) didn't think the savings would add up to this until the third
or fourth year, but we've exceeded those expectations already,"
Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said money is being saved because providing outpatient
treatment is cheaper than incarceration.

He said the cost for treatment per drug offender is about $4,000,
whereas annual incarceration costs roughly $28,000 per inmate.

Dr. Douglas Longshore, the principal investigator for the UCLA study,
said the findings for the next four years of the study are
unpredictable at this point.

"It's very hard to see how that's going to play out," Longshore

Though 69 percent of the 53,697 eligible drug offenders opted to
receive treatment, the treatment's effectiveness is uncertain. The
probability of repeat offenders could affect the money-saving quality
of Proposition 36 in the future.

Also, if budget cuts lead the state to stop allocating $120 million to
counties for treatment, counties may have to pay the bill themselves
or cut back from other programs.

Michaelis Jacoby, former drug offender and the clinical supervisor of
the Discovery Program - a residential alcohol and drug treatment
center in Century City - said jail time without more costly in-house
treatment is ineffective.

"I know for me jail has no rehabilitative qualities - it just taught
me to be a better criminal," he said.

However, Jacoby said it was while he was in Biscaluiz prison that he
discovered the 12-step program which he said "changed (his) life." He
said the spiritually based program worked for him by forcing him to
take responsibility for his addiction.

According to the UCLA study for the year ending in July 2002, 86
percent of the offenders who received treatment through Proposition 36
were placed in outpatient drug-free programs, whereas only 10 percent
were placed in a long-term residential program.

Jacoby does not believe the money-saving outpatient treatment is
effective compared to inpatient treatment, because people can arrive
late to meetings or ignore the message they teach.

"I think that if you get arrested and they Prop. 36-you, you need a
long-term, sober living facility to really get a chance," he said.

Public policy Professor Mark A.R. Kleiman - director of the Drug
Policy Analysis Program that researches the effects of drug policies
on the public - believes cutting costs through using an outpatient
program may not be the best way to treat drug addicts.

He suggested enforcing frequent drug tests and increased monitoring
of offenders.
"I think it would be worth the money to get people to do what you
want them to do, which is stop," he said.
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