Pubdate: Thu, 05 Feb 2009
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2009 The Sacramento Bee
Author: Margaret Dooley-Sammuli
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority


Re "Cutting prison costs is vital to budget fix" (Capitol &
California, Jan. 30): The budget analyst's realignment proposal
recognizes that we will be throwing good money after bad if the state
is allowed to hold on to juvenile and nonviolent drug offenders.

Shifting that responsibility to the counties not only makes good
budget sense, it makes good public safety and health policy. In recent
years, counties have proven better equipped than the state to
effectively and affordably handle both juvenile offenders, many of
whom have substance abuse problems, and adult nonviolent drug offenders.

While the Inspector General found in-prison treatment to be terribly
administered (and therefore nearly worthless), counties have
significantly expanded their capacity to treat criminal
justice-involved clients in the last several years - thanks to the
voter-approved treatment-instead-of-incarceration program, Proposition
36. The only thing holding back the creation of a system of treatment
for young people is lack of funds.

County treatment providers have been warned that, unless an alcohol
tax increase is approved, there may be no money at all for treatment
in next year's state budget. That is a terrible prospect. The
realignment proposal also tells us it's an unnecessary one.

Margaret Dooley-Sammuli

Los Angeles
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