Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s legislation offering Substance Use Disorder treatment passes out of Public Safety Committee

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – On 3/15/22, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty’s Hope California bill, AB 1928, passed out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 5-0 vote.

For many individuals suffering from SUDs, residential and professionally conducted evidence-based treatment programs are the best, or at times only, option for getting this population well. Our efforts in California in treating those who suffer from SUDs, some of whom are suffering from mental health issues or are homeless, have been unsuccessful. This bill would address gaps in the current criminal justice and rehabilitation system which have resulted in those suffering from substance abuse cycling in and out of local jails without a clear pathway to treatment.

“SUD is a public health issue, not a public safety issue and needs to be treated as such,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty. “We need to help people with their addictions through treatment instead of throwing them in jail. This voluntary program will help those get the treatment needed, which will ultimately help reduce the recidivism rate.”

Hope California is a pilot program offering those who suffer from Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) and committing repeat felonies, the option to choose rehabilitation over serving jail time. Participants who volunteer for the program would be confined and if completed, would have their records expunged and sealed. The program would be offered in Santa Clara, San Joaquin and Yolo counties.

The economic costs of untreated substance abuse and annual total societal costs of substance abuse in the United States was approximately $510.8 billion in 1999. This increase in costs has affected the economic system considerably and should drive our focus toward preventing and providing options for addressing substance-related crimes.

"Those who suffer from substance use disorders and subsequent mental health issues should receive services to assist in making them well," said San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. "We all can name a friend, family member, or a member in our community who is struggling. By passing legislation like AB 1928, we can better address the underlying issues driving petty crime and focus on building a safer, healthier community." 

“I strongly support alternatives to incarceration for individuals who have committed non-violent crimes and whose crime is driven by an uncontrolled drug addiction,” said Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen. “The HOPE program will give us a vital tool to protect the community while providing a much needed treatment opportunity for those struggling with addiction.  We are honored to pilot this new program.”

 “Too many people who suffer from substance use disorder are going to jail or prison for crimes that are motivated by their addiction. And prison is not a place where people who are sick, go to get better,” said Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. “So instead, AB 1928 envisions creating a secure hospital-like treatment facility without jails, bars, guards and guns that can serve as a sanctuary for seriously addicted felony offenders. Offenders would have the option to choose a local community-based treatment program with wrap-around services in a safe and secure setting instead of being shipped off and warehoused behind bars - we’re calling this place Hope California.”

“The passing of this piece of legislation will enable individuals like me become productive members of society by addressing their addiction early in life,” said Anthony Brown, who testified in support of the bill and suffered from SUDs in the 90’s. “I have lived inside prison walls and have developed programs to serve those who have been incarcerated. I have been addicted to substances and have counseled those who are afflicted. The Hope California Bill has the potential of offering a roadmap to the destination that took me 22 years to achieve.”

The bill will now go to the Assembly Health Committee for a vote.

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Kevin McCarty represents California’s 7th Assembly District, which include the cities of Sacramento, West Sacramento and unincorporated Sacramento County. McCarty serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance. Website of Assemblymember Kevin McCarty: https://a07.asmdc.org/