Talked to Ethan Nadelman, head of the Drug Policy Alliance, today, about Prop. 5, which would replace incarceration with treatment for most nonviolent drug offenders. He noted that almost none of the news stories mention that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that it would save taxpayers around $2.5 billion over time in the cost of prisons that don’t need to be built, or even that the LAO estimates that the costs of setting up better treatment programs would be offset by the reduction of costs associated with prisons (which is presumably why the prison guards union has donated a million bucks to the No campaign). In fact, the best I can figure it, Prop. 5 is the only proposition on the ballot that the LAO estimates would actually save taxpayers money at a time when the state is in a deep fiscal crisis.
He also noted that beer distributors have donated around $100,000 to the No campaign and various Indian casinos have kicked in around a quarter million. The keepers of the legalized vices apparently have a profound special interest in making sure nonviolent drug offenders go to jail.