Pubdate: Mon, 28 Jul 2003
Source: Peak, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Peak Publications Society
Author: Jennifer Haake, Daily Bruin (U California, Los Angeles)
Bookmark: (Treatment)
Bookmark: (Substance Abuse and Crime 
Prevention Act)
Bookmark: (Bill Zimmerman)


LOS ANGELES - The first results of a University of California at Los 
Angeles 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 that 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 non-partisan 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 that 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 

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

Though 69 per cent 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.

In addition, 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 centre in 
Century City - said jail time without more costly in-house treatment is 

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

Jacoby said it was while he was in Biscaluiz prison that he discovered the 
12-step program that 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 per cent 
of the offenders who received treatment through Proposition 36 were placed 
in outpatient drug-free programs, whereas only 10 per cent 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 

"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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