Margaret Dooley of the Drug Policy Alliance has prepared the following piece for Speak Out California in response to the demand by Gov. Schwarzenegger that incarceration be included as part of the Prop. 36 funding in this year's budget. As you will see, the action by the Legislature in capitulating to the Governor's continued bullying not only threatens the integrity of the work being done in the fight against drug addiction, it has serious constitutional implications as well.
The Drug Policy Alliance has announced that it will file suit to challenge the legislation and we'll be following the progress of that litigation as it proceeds through the courts. Given that this Governor always says he follows the
will of the people, it is ironic and very Bush-like that he has insisted the will of the people be ignored when it doesn't suit his purposes. Looks like another lawsuit of the People vs. the Governor. I suspect we'll be seeing many more of these to come:
The Legislative Abandonment of Prop. 36 And California Voters
By Margaret Dooley
In a single vote this week, our state Legislature turned its back on the people of California. Our representatives passed a bill late Tuesday night that, if signed by the Governor, would not only override Prop. 36, the treatment-instead-of-incarceration law passed by 61 percent of voters in 2000, but would undermine the entire initiative process in California.
The bill passed Tuesday, SB 1137, would alter Prop. 36 to exclude from the program many nonviolent drug offenders (many of whom would instead receive jail or prison terms) and allow the incarceration of people engaged in treatment. Prop. 36 currently protects people in treatment so that they get a real chance at recovery before they can be removed from the program and, if a judge orders, incarcerated.
Thanks to in-depth analyses by University of California at Los Angeles scientists, there is copious evidence that the program is working wonders just as it is. In just five years, over 60,000 Californians have graduated from Prop. 36 treatment and taxpayers have saved $1.3 billion. At the same time, public support of Prop. 36 has surpassed 70 percent, according to a 2004 Field Research Corporation poll.