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Why court-mandated drug treatment often fails

To the editor: It's unfortunate to see law enforcement leaders take the line that locking up problem drug users or threatening them with felony jail time is the way to get them straightened out. Law enforcement never liked Proposition 47 and actively tried to kill it, but its pique doesn't justify misrepresenting what the evidence tells us about addiction and recovery. ("Prop. 47's effect on jail time, drug rehabilitation is mixed so far," Feb. 21)

What the evidence shows is that court-ordered treatment usually ends in relapse. Treatment that people seek on their own has a far greater likelihood of success.

Rather than try to discredit Proposition 47, law enforcement should be grateful that the new law allows it to focus on serious and violent crime rather than chase people who definitely need help, but not the kind of "help" they will get from legal sanctions.

Peter Laarman, West Hollywood

The writer is coordinator of Justice Not Jails.

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To the editor: It's difficult to comprehend The Times' apparent hostility to Proposition 47, exemplified by the decision to illustrate this article with a picture of numerous police, with guns drawn, preparing to execute a parole search.

Police conduct parole searches all the time. What does that fact have to do with the societal effectiveness of the changes enacted by Proposition 47?

Moreover, the chart accompanying the article juxtaposes a decrease in drug arrests and an increase in property crime arrests. How about instead showing the increased time persons convicted of property and violent crimes who are sentenced to county jail are spending behind bars? Or the reduced costs to society associated with not branding drug addicts felons?

The message may prove more reaffirming to California voters.

Konrad Moore, Bakersfield

The writer is Kern County public defender. The views expressed are his own.

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