Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Really, California? Really??

I opened the paper yesterday to see a disturbing headline: "California might act to jail more drug offenders." Great. We really need more criminals, and less people in recovery. The question here, you bureaucratic imbeciles, is who does this make the world better for? Is prison somehow better at rehabilitating drug addicts than drug addiction treatment? How does this make sense?!? We already have 3.2 percent of our population in prison; do we need more? Two weeks ago, federal regulators ordered California to cut their prison population; so, oh government of ours, what the hell?

"While one side of the government is addressing prison overcrowding, another side seems to be acting directly counter to that goal," said Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director of the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance. Here's a fun fact- the mere $120 million for California government funded drug treatment has been cut in half from 2006. Last month, legislators here in California decided to cut 1.2 BILLION from the prison budgets. Why not full, oh, say, 1/10th of that money into drug treatment and help cut down recidivism rates? Why not focus and develop better treatment programming and staff so that the people you have turned into criminals can have a shot at a better life? I mean seriously, people, COME ON. Open your eyes. Prison is not rehabilitation when one is dealing with drug addiction. Addiction treatment will create change. Develop better programming- and laws- and we won't need nearly as many prisons. But will special interest groups be upset? Who cares?? It will be better for our entire population.

Here's a quick excerpt from a New York Times article from a couple of weeks ago:

"R. Gil Kerlikowske, who in May was sworn in as the Obama administration’s director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, is a supporter of drug courts as an alternative to mandatory drug sentencing. The new drug czar and the man nominated as his deputy, A. Thomas McLellan, are viewed by many addiction experts as representative of a sea change in thinking about treatment: away from the punitive, toward more acceptance of nuances and complications of addiction.

“Ten years ago, if you would have asked me this question about addiction, I would have said it’s obviously a moral failure and I don’t know why people can’t pull themselves up from their bootstraps and handle this and get themselves totally clean,” Mr. Kerlikowske, a former police chief in Seattle, said in an interview. 'But we can be going in a different direction. We can look at this from different viewpoints now.'"

So let's build out our drug courts if we can't change the laws. But if we change the laws, we'll have less need for punishment- divert people with possession charges to treatment and allow them a chance to get better. Legal consequences can be a GREAT motivator for people to get well. Allow them that option. Please. We beg you.

So California? I say, get it together. Make us better. Stop creating problems for yourself.

Here's a video on Prop 5, the drug treatment bill that failed to pass in 2008:

A special thanks goes out to Adi Jaffe with the All About Addiction blog for his guest post on Take Part which got me fired up about this.

My friend Jane Mintz of Real Life Interventions recently started an online school for intervention training- check it out here. Pretty cool option, and helps with accountability. This is a training available for her newly designed intervention model, the Field Model of Intervention. Great user interface as well.

Here's something funny.

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1 comment:

  1. Let me start by saying that I totally support drug treatment and programs that help addicts get and stay sober. At the same time I want to know that enough money is being spent on enforcement so that the chances of a strung out meth head that hasn't slept for a week does me or my family no harm are low. Use some common sense, obvioulsy violent offenders deserve to be in jail but there must be a recovery program available that works. Drug Courts have proven to be incredibly effective, non violent offenders have to have that option. Bottom line is we must be protected but we have to know that every dollar spent on treatment saves lives and money in the long run. Like your blog.