Newsbrief: California to Quit Sending Parolees Back to Prison Over Drug Tests 11/21/03

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The new administration of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) Tuesday agreed to a settlement that will result in thousands of paroled California drug offenders avoiding a return to prison for "administrative" violations. The move comes only a week after the state's Little Hoover Commission, an independent state agency monitoring the efficiency of state programs, sharply criticized California's parole system as "broken" and a billion-dollar failure because of its high rate of parolees returned to prison. It should also save the cash-strapped state millions of dollars over the next few years.

The settlement came in a class-action lawsuit filed in 1994 by ex-convicts who charged that the state's handling of parole violators was unconstitutional. Under California practice up to this point, nearly 100,000 people a year were jailed or imprisoned pending hearings on their alleged parole violations. Now, parole violators who are not charged with a crime will instead be diverted to home detention, electronic monitoring, or residential drug treatment centers, among other options.

The new rules will apply only to parolees without serious felonies on their records and only for "administrative" violations, such as a positive drug test or missing a meeting with a parole agent, not to parolees charged with new crimes. State officials have said such a move could reduce the number of parole violators sent back to prison each year by one-third within the next three years.

"Some people will view this as soft on crime, but that's not the case," Michael Brady, deputy secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency, told the Los Angeles Times. "Instead, we are taking people whose underlying problem is substance abuse and making sure they get help and get the tools they need to become law-abiding citizens."

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Issue #312, 11/21/03 Editorial: One Step Too Far | Harsh New Drug Bill About to Be Introduced in House | Jamaica: Ganja Decrim is Moving Again | Incident at Goose Creek: Fallout Continues in Aftermath of High School Drug Raid | DRCNet Interview: Youth Sociologist Mike Males | Call Campaign Targets Congressmen Voting Against Medical Marijuana | Newsbrief: Methamphetamine Labs Are Not Weapons of Mass Destruction, North Carolina Judge Rules | Newsbrief: California Judge to Run for Senate on Legalization Platform, Libertarian Ticket | Newsbrief: Mexico City's Top Prosecutor Goes Off the Reservation -- Talks Legalization While Fox Government Vows Loyalty to Drug War | Newsbrief: California to Quit Sending Parolees Back to Prison Over Drug Tests | Newsbrief: Arkansas Attorney General Rejects Medical Marijuana Initiative -- Again | Newsbrief: Filipino Senator Calls for Firing Squads in Continuing Escalation of Drug War Rhetoric | Newsbrief: Reform Judaism National Body Endorses Medical Marijuana | Media Scan: Jack Cole of LEAP on Cultural Baggage Radio Show Next Week | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar

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