Last year, Californians were asked to approve Prop. 47, which made misdemeanors of several felonies.
The idea was to send fewer people to prison and a majority of Californians voters approved it. I wasn’t one of them.
I voted against Prop. 47 for exactly the reason mentioned in a recent op-ed piece in the LA Times: that addicts frequently need the threat of jail or prison to get their minds around the idea of entering rehab.
The threat of prison was, in other words, a rock bottom from which some could achieve recovery.
This comes from interviews with many recovering addicts whose lives were saved by being arrested, by going to jail and facing prison time.
The idea that government or society should play no role in pushing addicts into recovery is foolish, dangerous, too. It does no one any good to remove that threat.
But that’s what Prop. 47 does, to the detriment of folks addicted to drugs, I believe.
The op-ed makes the point that it’s leading to an increase in crime. That may be true. But from my standpoint, having written Dreamland, and seeing widespread addiction to pain pills and now heroin across America, it is the former reasoning that makes most sense, particularly given how horrifying difficult it is for so many to kick their habits.
Prop. 47 couldn’t have come at a worse time. Addicts need any kind of impetus they can get. Unfortunately, for many in California, it no longer exists.