Advocacy Alert: California Governor Vetoes AB 1542 “Locked Down Treatment”

October 14, 2021


In a brief statement from Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday, October 8, AB 1542 (Locked Treatment) was vetoed thus ending the state's first legislation aimed at putting people with "drug related crimes" in a treatment center they cannot leave. The Governor made it clear that returning to the "war on drugs" is the wrong direction for California.

"I understand the importance of developing programs that can divert individuals away from the criminal justice system, but coerced treatment for substance use disorder is not the answer. While this pilot would give a person the choice between incarceration and treatment, I am concerned that this is a false choice that effectively leads to forced treatment. I am especially concerned about the effects of such treatment, given that evidence has shown coerced treatment hinders participants' long-term recovery from their substance use disorder. For these reasons, I am returning this bill."

The defeat of AB 1542 was a high priority for CCAPP, and the organization joined multiple coalitions, testified in committees, conducted a "vote no on AB 1542" grassroots campaign, organized an industry letter-writing effort, and lobbied the Governor's office and the administration to assist in defeating this item.

"This is a major victory for our organization and for people in recovery," said CCAPP President and CEO Pete Nielsen. "It is also recognition from our Governor that addiction needs treatment, not punishment."

CCAPP has vowed to work with the bill's author, Assemblyman McCarty, to address "recalcitrant patients", those who refuse treatment or leave after entering.

"If the author is intent on addressing issues surrounding refusal of treatment, we need to start by understanding why this occurs," said Nielsen. "If the legislature does not know why people aren't participating in treatment, they need to study critical questions concerning wait times, lack of aftercare, poor treatment programs, lack of resources in many communities, and the effects of stigma. In doing so, we can address the issues AB 1542 sought to remedy."

To begin this process, CCAPP has created an infographic that teaches potential clients, physicians, treatment navigators, counselors, and policy makers what clients are experiencing at different phases of the "patient journey". This informative poster can be viewed by clicking here.

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