May 1, 2002
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Early Reports Indicate Prop.
36 is Working as Intended
California Department of
Corrections Cites New Initiative as Primary Factor
in Keeping Women out of Prison
Plan to Build New
Maximum-Security Prison Unexpectedly Reversed
Contact: Whitney Taylor,
The California Department of Corrections
(CDC) has reported that the states population
of women inmates has dropped 10 percent in the past
year. Last week, the CDC acknowledged that this decline
is due in large part to Proposition 36, Californias
groundbreaking initiative that diverts people convicted
of nonviolent drug possession into treatment instead
We think the biggest factor
with the womens numbers is Proposition 36,
said Margot Bach, a CDC spokeswoman, in an April 25th
Orange County Register article.
Sixty-one percent of Californians
voted in favor of Proposition 36 in November 2000,
hoping to decrease the number of non-violent drug
offenders in the states prisons and jails. The
initiative went into effect July 1, 2001.
In keeping with a recent Drug Policy
Alliance report*, Bachs statement confirms that
Proposition 36 is being implemented true to California
voters' intent. The initiative has already begun to
reduce drug-related crime by providing access to sorely
needed treatment services. It is also working to preserve
precious law enforcement resources for violent criminals
and save taxpayers millions of dollars.
In related news, last week a Senate
budget subcommittee voted to stop all spending on
a new maximum-security prison near Delano, California.
The new facility is seen as unnecessary as the states
prison population has fallen to 156,000 inmates from
a high of 162,000.
Prop. 36 is a much needed solution
to Californias current budget deficit,
said Whitney A. Taylor, director of Proposition 36
implementation at the Drug Policy Alliance. The
$1 billion that would be spent on building a new prison
in Delano should instead be put towards community-based
initiatives that work.
*Based on a March survey of county
administrators and key stakeholders in six counties,
the Drug Policy Alliance found that:
- As of March 1, 2002, 13,695 individuals
had been referred to treatment under Proposition
36 in the six counties examined.
- According to the state's 2001-2002
budget analysis, it costs $25,607 per year to imprison
each inmate in California. The average cost of drug
treatment in California is approximately $4,000
per client. While exact figures are not yet available,
it is reasonable to presume that Proposition 36
has resulted in considerable cost savings to the
- Successfully implementing Proposition
36 has fostered a unique collaboration between criminal
justice and public health agencies at the county
level. Never before have such distinct agencies
worked so closely together on such a large scale.
Drug Policy Alliance's Prop 36 Update, April
View a chart of Drug Possession Offenders
in California Prisons 1999-2001 prepared by
Campaign for New Drug Policies
# # #
Drug Policy Alliance is
the nations leading organization working to
end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies
based on common sense, science, public health and
human rights. The Alliance, headquartered in New York
City, has offices in California, Washington, DC and
New Mexico. Ethan Nadelmann is the executive director.
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