Proposition 36 campaign manager Dave Fratello says the issue is more than a philosophical difference over methods (”Ours puts the money into treatment. Theirs puts the focus on monitoring and punishment“). Drug courts do not exist in every county, and now reach only about 5 percent of eligible defendants. They are, he says, ”very reliant on the individual judge,“ who, with a combination of compassion, firmness and detailed attention to each individual case, follows offenders throughout their recovery. ”The problem is that we don’t have enough judges like that,“ Fratello says. ”It‘s just not realistic to grow that system.“
The provision against funding drug testing, he explains, would not prevent judges from mandating testing. It would just require them to use pre-existing funding sources, preserving the money put aside by the initiative for treatment itself.
Proposition 36 will not heal the hypocritical heart of a nation that extols the empty pleasures of consumerism while excoriating the unsanctioned ecstasies of illegal drugs. It will not prevent the prohibition-spurred violence that takes thousands of lives each year. It will not help the inhabitants of countries whose entire economies and political systems have been corrupted by our war on drugs. It will not cure the massive inequities that drive so many into addiction and despair. But it very well may save tens of thousands of people who have hurt no one but themselves (if that) from having their lives destroyed by the cruelties of incarceration.