July 17, 2003
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Prop. 36 Exceeds Expectations
with Huge Savings
State Saved Roughly $275
Million In First Year; Over 37,000 People Diverted
to Treatment Say Leading Advocates Available
Contact: Tony Newman, Drug
Policy Alliance: (510) 812-3126 or Dave Fratello,
According to UCLAs first
annual study on Proposition 36, embargoed for
release on Thursday, July 17, 2003, Proposition 36
is affecting more people than projected, and saving
more money that was predicted. Experts from the Drug
Policy Alliance and the Campaign for New Drug Policies
estimate that, because of the high cost of incarceration
in comparison to the low cost of treatment, California
saved at least $275 million in taxpayer money during
the first year of Prop 36 enforcement.
Daniel Abrahamson, a co-author of
Prop. 36 and director of the Drug Policy Alliances
Office of Legal Affairs, said, The State Office
of the Legislative Analyst originally predicted that
savings of $250 million would not be reached until
the third or fourth year. Weve exceeded those
predictions in the first year.
Bill Zimmerman, who managed the
campaign for Prop. 36 and is executive director of
the Campaign for New Drug Policies, said, At
a difficult time for our state, this report is an
occasion for Californians to celebrate. Voters created
a program that is working right, and saving money.
Proposition 36 will continue to save money and save
lives as long as state government continues to faithfully
implement and fund this successful program.
Prop 36 supporters noted that the
pre-election report by the Legislative Analysts
Office estimated that 36,000 people per year would
eventually avoid incarceration because of Prop 36,
with savings approaching $250 million annually. But
the LAO said these effects could take several
years to be realized.
The estimate of $275 million in
savings was calculated by Prop 36 supporters today
based on data from the UCLA report. They used the
reported figure of 37,495 people having opted for
treatment and having been assessed for placement,
assuming that these individuals would otherwise have
been sentenced to jail or prison for drug possession.
One-quarter were assumed to have avoided prison, with
an average sentence of 16 months, while three-quarters
were assumed to have avoided a jail sentence, conservatively
estimated at an average of 23 days (based on the reported
average length of stay in county jails
across California). With a $28,000 annual incarceration
cost, the costs avoided for all the persons in Prop
36 averaged $10,640 per offender. Treatment costs
of $120 million were deducted from the resulting total
costs-avoided figure of $398 million, providing net
savings of more than $275 million.
Zimmerman said, This is our
first estimate based on the data that are available.
Over the weeks and months to come, state officials
and researchers will be in a better position to compile
more complete figures. What is important now is that
California voters know that Prop 36 is working. Keeping
it working will mean saving more money.
The UCLA study proves that
Prop 36 works, says Abrahamson, Tens of
thousands of people who were previously denied treatment
are getting it; hundreds of millions of dollars are
being saved. And as a result, individuals, their families
and their communities continue to get healthier.
Download the Evaluation
of the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act 2002