Pubdate: Mon, 08 Sep 2003
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Miami Herald
Author: John Chase
Bookmark: (Incarceration)
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Florida puts prisons first because the Legislature believes that prisoners 
serving time for drug-related crimes deserve punishment first and rehab 
second, if at all. It is time to put aside our anger at druggies and talk 
about what Floridians deserve. More than in-prison drug treatment, we need 
a long-term solution to the problem of drug abuse and addiction.

But don't look to Tallahassee for leadership. Instead, look to other 
states, particularly California and its Proposition 36 -- the initiative 
that gives low-level drug suspects the right to treatment instead of prison.

Floridians may remember the state initiative "Right to Treatment and 
Rehabilitation," which was written by the same authors of California's Prop 
36. But Florida's didn't make the deadline for the 2002 ballot. It was 
withdrawn by its backers after Gov. Bush and his drug czar, James 
McDonough, caused delay related to the Florida Supreme Court's approval of 
its language. There was too little time to gather signatures.

So thanks to Bush and McDonough, Floridians have no Prop 36 of our own this 
year. But Floridians can ask legislators to craft legislation for better 
long-term solutions, not just building more prisons.

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