Prop 5 ... Treatment or Time?

October 30, 2008 9:58:29 PM PDT
California's last five governors shared one stage Thursday to voice their opposition to Proposition 5. This ballot measure would divert thousands of non-violent drug offenders away from prisons and into treatment programs.It was a rare site ... Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ... And his predecessors Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, Jerry Brown and George Deukmejian. All five in opposition to Proposition 5. They say the ballot measure would harm public safety by easing punishment for drug offenders. Fresno's Police Chief Jerry Dyer echoes the governor's sentiment ? But goes one step further.

Chief Jerry Dyer said, "I think it's the most dangerous proposition in the state of California that I've seen in my entire law enforcement career."

Among its provisions Proposition 5 would allocate $460-million dollars annually to improve and expand treatment programs for drug and alcohol offenders. It would also create drug treatment programs for teens. Which currently do not exist. While it would initially cost taxpayers one million dollars ... The California Legislative Analyst estimates the measure would reduce prison costs by a million dollars. Addiction experts say drug abuse is a medical problem and not a criminal problem.

Debbie Harkness, Addiction Counselor said, "When punishment is included in any kind of treatment and it's the primary focus. It usually puts a negative spin on any kind of success rate. If you do it therapeutically you're going to get a lot more benefit from it and it will reduce crime. "

Treatment is tough to come by anywhere in the state ... Especially in the central valley.

The CAP Recovery Home is just one of only a handful of state licensed treatment facilities in the Fresno area and all of them have long waiting lists to get in.

Debbie Harkness says the lack of facilities is exactly why Prop 5 needs to pass.

Chief Dyer believes in treating drug offenders after they've served time for their crime ... But Prop 5, he says, is not the answer.

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