Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reefer Madness

No, I'm sad to say that this post has nothing to do with the classic film reefer madness. Better, though, is California’s drug rehabilitation program in stead of incarceration. Apparently results are good, in fact excellent. To anyone who supports the “War on Drugs” I would like to enlighten you on the prospect of a better way of preventing drug use besides criminalization/incarceration. As Dave Fratello (huffington post) reports here, In California the results are so spectacular that it is even saving the state government massive amounts of money.

So how are we doing with this new policy? UCLA researchers compared the first two years of experience with Prop. 36 with two sample years before. They found that far fewer people were being incarcerated for drug offenses, and that the state had saved $2.50 for every dollar put into the program.

These savings were calculated in hard dollars - actual savings to government with real individuals - a major strength of the study. Savings were even higher for people who completed their treatment: $4 for every $1. The program saved $173.3 million in the first year alone, a mighty peace dividend after years of drug wars.

This means Prop. 36 has saved state and local governments at least $800 million, as this New York Times editorial notes -- and that's after California spent $660 million on drug treatment programs. Add in the savings from prison construction that has been avoided, at least $500 million, and the program is on track to save more than $1.3 billion.

the rest of the story

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