California Runs Out of Money to Fund Mandated 1st-Offender Drug Treatment


California county officials who administer the state’s treatment-not-jail program for certain drug offenders are struggling with a lack of funding that’s not likely to improve, but advocates say ignoring the mandate simply isn’t an option, reports the Contra Costa (CA) Times. Officials are trying to figure out how they’ll continue to provide the same treatment without the money to pay for it.

Enacted by 61 percent of voters in November 2000 as Proposition 36, the law says first- and second-time nonviolent, simple drug possession offenders must be given the opportunity to receive substance-abuse treatment instead of jail time. It would take another voter-approved ballot measure to undo it. Prop. 36 allocated $120 million per year for only five years, and as the state’s budget crisis worsened, the legislature and governor declined to ante up. They set aside $108 million in 2008-09 but just $18 million in 2009-10, and then zeroed it out for this current fiscal year. Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal includes no money for it in 2011-12. A $45 million infusion of federal economic stimulus funds in 2009 is now all but gone, and the coffers are empty. It’s a mandate with no money.

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