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DOC Secretary McNeil proposes elimination of $36.8 million for drug treatment programs

Now more than ever before is the time to contact your legislator in Tallahassee.

To cut all programs in order to fund prison beds is like building more cemeteries to fight a deadly epidemic.

The Legislature has requested that the Department of Corrections propose an additional cut of $213 million (10% reduction) from its budget without eliminating any prison beds.  The Department of Corrections is poised to recommend tomorrow the elimination of all $37 million in existing correctional substance abuse programs to meet this goal.  In addition, Secretary McNeil will also be recommending the elimination of community-based faith initiatives, pre-trial intervention programs, and drug court funding.

What this would mean is that offenders with substance abuse disorders may not get treatment (the majority don’t already, but thousands do) in Florida, although years of DOC assembled data reveals that treatment increases public safety (there is measurably less recidivism for treated offenders) and is less expensive than prison, which is typically seen as the alternative.

I had already shared this issue with the Sheriff and Commissioner Janes and others (alerting them in case they wanted to communicate to our local delegation), but realized that keeping you apprised of these types of developments makes sense due to other community systems being impacted when changes like this occur.  I will keep you posted as this moves on through the legislative budget process.

Here in Lee County, SWFAS receives a small amount of DOC funding for outpatient treatment (less than $50K) which is also used in Hendry, Glades and Collier Counties.  The much bigger program at risk would be the Salvation Army’s residential program operated at the Edison campus – Meg Geltner is aware of this discussion in the legislature and is working on the issue.

I am attaching an editorial from the Tampa Tribune and an article from Jacksonville summarizing the detrimental impact this has on our community and public safety.

If you have not already done so, please consider contacting TODAY:

Representative Nick Thompson, a member of the House Public Safety and Security Council in Tallahassee at 850-488-1541 or [email protected] and Senator Lisa Carlton, from Osprey, Chair of the Senate’s Fiscal Policy Committee at 850-487-5081 or [email protected].

The Tampa Tribune editorial is a fairly concise summary, but if you are in need of additional talking points, please call Michele Phillips at 278-7595.

Thanks for your help!

Michelle Phillips
Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Inc. (SWFAS)
2675 Winkler Avenue, Suite 180
Fort Myers, Florida 33901
239-278-7595 extension 701