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High on Justice 

Lessons from drug court

Thursday, May 8 2003

Page 6 of 6

What the data also show is that drug treatment is not magic. People have both to be ready for treatment and receive treatment that matches their need. That means addicts are going to relapse, in some cases multiple times. This is particularly true given that Prop. 36 is, for the most part, serving not recreational or mildly addicted users, but hardcore addicts who, for the 20 years prior to Prop. 36’s passage, had been unable to get treatment.

But drug treatment can work as an effective alternative to prison or jail. As John Washington told me, “I agreed to enter the Prop. 36 program because I needed to save my life. And Prop. 36 has helped me to do that. I was a crackhead with no place to go, and a jail or prison term hanging over my head. By being forced to do Prop. 36, the court did for me what I couldn’t do for myself.”

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