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Supes deny rehab funding

Woes continue to mount, both short and long term, for the drug diversion program that allows addicts faced with jail to instead get clean.

This week the Nevada County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to suspend Supervisor Robin Sutherland’s request to get $45,000 more in county funds this fiscal year to bolster the Prop. 36 program. Sutherland was trying to re-establish a 90-day initial period for rehabilitation that the board reduced to 60 days in November to save money.

“Reducing the length of stay increases the likelihood that treatment will fail, and the client will recirculate through the court system, ultimately costing the taxpayers more money,” Sutherland stated in a memo to fellow board members prior to the meeting.



“Are we being penny-wise and pound foolish?” Sutherland said Wednesday. “This is not a lot of money to stop repeat offenders.”

Supervisor Nate Beason voted to suspend the plan because he wanted to take a larger look at the situation and possibly give it more funding for the 2006-07 fiscal year, which starts July 1.




“It’s underfunded,” Beason said Wednesday. “But we’d rather take a big swing at this than make it piecemeal.”

Beason said concerns over how much the governor will actually put in his budget for Prop. 36 and a proposed bill to rewrite Prop. 36 caused him, along with supervisors Sue Horne and John Spencer, to balk at Sutherland’s request. Supervisor Ted Owens voted with Sutherland.

Earlier this month, Warren Daniels, director of Community Recovery Resources, said Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed $120 million for Prop. 36 this year was actually good news, although it was down from the $138 million actually spent on it annually the past two years. Prop. 36 was passed by 61 percent of the voters in 2000, and only called for five and a half years of funding. That means Schwarzenegger did not have to put it in the 2006-07 budget at all, Daniels said.

Superior Court Judge Robert Tamietti runs the Prop. 36 program for Nevada County and said he understands why the rehabilitation time was cut earlier this year.

“The county’s got a lot of competing needs. I know, I run budgets too,” Tamietti said. But, he added, he also is interested in getting the program to run efficiently.

When the decision to trim the rehabilitation time offered to addicts – from 90 to 60 days – was made in November, it cut the case manager staff position for Prop. 36, Tamietti said. It has caused two other busy employees to deal with the 170 to 220 cases the court has at any given time.

“The compromise was to cut it to 60 days and limit the intake to three people a month,” Tamietti said. “Sixty days isn’t enough and three people isn’t enough to seriously address the problem we’re facing. We’ve already seen people come out of 60 days and relapse.”

The feeling is mutual at Progress House in Nevada City, where drug addicts are sent by the county to rehabilitate.

The 60-day limit “hurts the clients here,” said John Duff, a counselor at Progress House. “Residential treatment works best at 90 days, and then you should go into transitional housing” for more rehabilitation.

Duff said putting someone in a facility for 30 or 60 days “is inefficient. They’re barely getting out of the fog” of drugs at that point.

Despite the setback, Sutherland has vowed to continue pushing her point.

“We watered down rehab,” she said. “Sometimes it takes 90 days just to get clean. Six to nine months is needed for rehab.”

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To contact senior staff writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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