|This Week in Northern California: Prop 36: New Drug Law|
KQED'S THIS WEEK IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA EXPLORES CALIFORNIA'S RADICAL NEW DRUG LAW IN
"Prop 36: From Jail to Freedom"
Sweeping Voter-Approved Measure Focus of January 19th Special
San Francisco, CA . . . On Friday, January 19 at 8:30 p.m., This Week in Northern California -- KQED's weekly public affairs program -- will host a special half-hour report on California's momentous new approach to crime and illegal drugs. Proposition 36, the measure which voters passed last November, requires that first- and second -time offenders convicted of nonviolent drug crimes be given probation with drug treatment instead of jail time. It also guarantees treatment for individuals with drug abuse problems.
While the new law, which goes into effect July 1, is not the first of its kind in the country, it is already the focus of national attention due to its broad-reaching effects. With current drug policies under fire, predictions are that if Prop 36 succeeds, it could lead to major changes in America’s national policy commonly known as the "war on drugs."
Statistics indicate that the huge growth in California's prison population is connected to current harsh drug sentencing laws. Supporters of Prop 36 argue that by dealing with the causes of addiction, crimes will drop and so will the prison population. Currently there are an estimated 80,000 drug addicts throughout the state, with an additional 30,000 in prison. The state will fund county-based treatment programs in the amount of $120 million a year in addition to paying $60 million between now and July 1. It is a figure that some say is woefully inadequate. Estimates are that, under the new law, approximately 37,000 people statewide will be eligible for treatment programs instead of incarceration.
This Week in Northern California will investigate these and other issues through live discussions, interviews and video roll-ins. A live remote will allow Arizona officials to tell about how a similar program has worked in that state.
Veteran award-winning journalist Belva Davis will host "Prop 36: From Jail to Freedom," the first of four This Week specials in coming months. Guests for this special report include: Bill Lockyer, California Attorney General, and Phyllis Harding, director of substance abuse services for the San Francisco Health Department. Guests seen in taped interviews include: Dan Abrahamson, co-author of Prop 36; Dorsey Nunn, program director for legal services for Prisoners with Children, himself a former drug addict and prisoner at San Quentin; and former U.S. Representative and Stanford law professor Tom Campbell, a vocal critic of the war on drugs.
Viewers will be able to submit comments and ask questions of the guests via the show's new interactive Web site at thisweek.kqed.org.
"Prop 36: From Jail to Freedom" producer is Jon Fromer. This Week in Northern California is produced by John Roszak; Robin Epstein and Scheraz Sadiq are associate producers. Tamara Gould is executive producer. Peter Calabrese is vice president of television production for KQED.
KQED operates KQED Public Television 9, the nation's most-watched public television station (in prime-time), and Digital Television 30, Northern California's only public television digital signal; KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM, the most listened-to public radio station in the nation; the KQED Education Network, which brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and media professionals through workshops, seminars and resources; and kqed.org, which harnesses the power of the Internet to bring KQED to communities across the Web.