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A Message About Implementing Prop 36 From ... 
Stephen V. Manly, President of the California Association of Drug Court Professionals (CADCP)

Introduction By Terence T. Gorski:  Judge Steven V. Manly is a recognized leader in the national movement to have the courts deal with non-violent drug offenders as sick people who need treatment and not bad people who need punishment.  Judge Manly sees the both the promise and the potential problems inherent in California's Proposition 36.  As a proactive leader, judge manly calls for those who care about suffering addicts, their families, and their communities to focus upon and enhance the strengths of Prop 36 while recognizing, working around, and eventually correcting the problems.  He believes that Proposition 36 creates an opportunity to implement a comprehensive state-wide drug court system that is an integrated part of a full continuum of treatment and supervision , rather than a separate model operating in isolation from other community resources.    He encourages an inclusive policy towards involving people in court supervised treatment.  Since addiction as a chronic relapsing condition, he sees no sense in declaring certain people as ineligible for court supervised treatment that could break the cycle of substance use and crime.  He suggests focusing upon the drug court principles of assessment, appropriate treatment placement, close supervision from the bench, and the immediate implementation of sanctions and incentives based upon how people respond to treatment.  He sees the first step as working "outside of the box" to use proven drug court principles to successfully implement Prop 36.  This will set the stage for seeking much needed additional money and appropriate amendments that can overcome the weaknesses of the legislation.

For every member of the California Drug Court Association and other citizens who are committed to the successful implementation of California's Proposition 36, these next  months present a great challenge, and a great opportunity, as we plan for the implementation of Proposition 36. We must remember that drug courts emerged as the result of a reform movement in the criminal justice system involving the collaboration of many fields and disciplines, long before treatment was an accepted alternative.

Proposition 36 gives us a small window in time to advocate for the implementation of a complete “Drug Court Treatment System” for all substance abusing non-violent offenders. That system should contain the full continuum of treatment and supervision. Rather than look at our drug courts as a “separate” model, we should look at a system that places clients in the most appropriate setting to reach the goals of successful completion of treatment and the greatest likelihood of stopping drug use, with drug courts being the most intensely supervised level of placement.  

Labels such as “DEJ Eligible Only”, “Prop. 36 Eligible Only”, “Non Prop. 36 Eligible”, “Failure” should not control our planning efforts.  We recognize that our common goal is to provide offenders with appropriate treatment and supervision based on ongoing assessments, retain them in treatment, and have them successfully complete that treatment. We should also recognize that not every client may be placed in an intense drug court setting.  

Why not take this opportunity to move to a comprehensive drug treatment system model for all drug offenders? We recognize that addiction is a relapsing condition, and that hard-core users will be back in the criminal justice system. Does it make sense to deny treatment to an “ineligible” defendant or deny treatment forever to a presently “unameanable” client? Must we abandon our drug court principles and return to contested adversarial hearings? Not necessarily.

Basic drug court principles that we have learned and put into effect in collaborative planning may be applied to develop a more comprehensive system that adequately assesses each defendant entering the system, and places each defendant at the appropriate level of treatment and supervision over time.

Proposition 36 has infused $120 million into the treatment/supervision system for drug offenders. However, when you look closely at the amount allocated to each of our Counties and the number of additional offenders who will now be placed in treatment, many agree that there are insufficient resources to meet the need. Therefore, we must be creative and effectively manage all of our resources.

Kathy Jett, the new Director of the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs recognized the strength of local collaboration in a world of limited resources when her Department issued the Emergency Regulations for implementation: Coordinate the development of a county plan for implementation at the local level.

  If we “think outside the box”, then we can return to the collaborations and agreements that we have already entered into, and build on them to complete a treatment system. Because planning will be local, there is no requirement of uniformity.

  At the State level, we must advocate strongly for funding for drug testing, which has been a key component in success in treatment, and our drug courts. If we learn during our local planning efforts that there is insufficient funding for both treatment and supervision, we must immediately build a case for additional funding from the State.

This journey begins with our cooperative effort at the local level. Five months is a very short time!  I encourage you to take the first steps today, and keep drug courts alive and responsive.


Very truly yours,


Hon. Stephen V. Manley, President, CADCP

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