Pubdate: Mon, 3 Nov 2008
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Times-Herald
Author: Tracey W. Lee

'YES' ON 5

On Tuesday, Californians have an unprecedented opportunity to
transform lives and create lasting positive economic and social
change. How? Vote "yes" on Proposition 5. Proposition 5 or NORA
(California's Non-Violent Offender Rehabilitation Act of 2008) takes
money earmarked for prisons and instead uses that money to treat and
provide recovery support for nonviolent offenders and youth with drug

People in the grip of addiction create havoc -- for themselves, their
families, their communities, and for society as a whole. For decades
the solution has been to lock up these offenders. America can now
boast that we have more people in prison than any country in the
world. Once released, with their addictions unchecked, it does not
take long for the cycle of drug use and crime to begin again. So, we
build another prison -- and we incarcerate and the cycle continues.

Instead of building yet another prison, Proposition 5 challenges us to
take the money budgeted for building prisons and instead treat the
core issue and heal the problem, by offering treatment rather than
incarceration. Proposition 5 would expand access to substance abuse
treatment for young people and nonviolent offenders. NORA will ensure
that tens of thousands of nonviolent drug offenders receive the
rehabilitation services they need for long term recovery and reduce
the number of offenders being caught up in the overcrowded ineffective
prison system.

As a person in long-term recovery from methamphetamine addiction I can
attest to the power of treatment in helping to create true and lasting
change. Once I received treatment for my addiction in 1997, my life
changed remarkably -- from chaos and dysfunction to stability and
abundance. Once homeless, I now have a beautiful home. Once bankrupt,
I now have flawless credit. My son has flourished in my recovery and
is now attending his first year at Stanford University. Imagine where
he would be if I had remained lost in my addiction? Drug treatment
literally transformed our lives. I am not unique in my response to
treatment, but I am unique in that I was able to receive drug
treatment -- rather than incarceration.

Incarceration exacerbates what treatment and recovery support can
heal. Drug treatment helps people return to employment, pursue
education, and become involved in the social activities that build
communities and promote public safety. According to the Washington
State Institute for Public Policy, every dollar spent on treatment in
the community is estimated to return $18.52 in benefits to society.
But in truth, the benefits of treatment are priceless. Please, help
make a positive difference for children, families and communities all
across California on Tuesday.

Vote "yes" on Proposition 5.

Tracey W. Lee

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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake