By John Lam
Drug offenders are having trouble getting services to help with their addictions once they get out of prison, a report by three newspapers concludes.
“The state has not yet invested enough money in treatment programs,” according to a seven-month study conducted by the Ventura County Star, the Redding Record Searchlight, and the Salinas Californian.
“The state has not yet invested enough money in treatment programs”
The report concluded that thousands of addicts and mentally ill people have gone from incarceration to the streets, without a safety net to help them deal with substance abuse.
Since 2014, at least 13,500 inmates left California jails and prisons under Proposition 47, which reclassified simple drug possession as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.
“Proposition 47 was not a cure-all,” said Michael Romano, a Stanford law expert who helped draft the proposition. It succeeded in getting drug offenders out of overcrowded prisons and jails, but that’s just “one piece in an extraordinarily complicated puzzle.”
According to Mother Jones magazine, “It costs about $20,000 to send someone through inpatient drug treatment, which typically lasts six months to a year. It costs three times more to keep him in jail or prison for a year. Under Proposition 47, the millions of dollars saved in prison costs were supposed to be earmarked for rehabilitation programs to help inmates restart their lives.”
The study conducted by the journalists revealed that none of the earmarked money was spent on rehabilitation.
“People die waiting to get treatment,” said David Ramage, an administrator at Impact Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in Pasadena.
The lack of a suitable drug program has resulted in people choosing probation versus rehab – because the consequences for a misdemeanor offense may be a shorter ordeal and less restrictive. The longest-running drug court program in Los Angeles has seen enrollment drop from 80 people to just four, according to the reporters.