Kathryn Jett, director of the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs since November 2000, now will direct the newly reorganized Division of Addiction and Recovery Services within the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The governor issued a news release calling Jett, 53, "the right person at the right time to take on this critical responsibility. There is no one more experienced in addiction and recovery services and no one more committed to making substance abuse treatment the cornerstone of our rehabilitation efforts in Corrections."
Schwarzenegger ordered a shake-up of what used to be the department's Office of Substance Abuse Programs in light of a report coming today from state Inspector General Matt Cate.
It will call the prisons' existing substance-abuse programs "ineffective at reducing recidivism" and "a waste of money." It highlights a study of the two largest in-prison treatment programs, finding participants' rate of returning to prison within a year actually are "slightly higher than that of a nonparticipating control group."
Cate in October reported OSAP had overpaid three substance-abuse treatment contractors nearly $5 million over four years, had violated the state's constitution and policies by letting contractors keep equipment bought with millions of taxpayer dollars and might have failed to hold a contractor accountable for mishandling confidential inmate information.
And Cate's October report followed legislative hearings on OSAP's profligate spending and poor results; OSAP director Mary Philip resigned in February 2006, weeks before the State Senate Select Committee on Government Cost Control took her office to task.
Jett's tenure at DADP gets a "decidedly mixed" review, said Nikos Leverenz, director of the national Drug Policy Alliance's Sacramento office.
On one hand, he said, Jett has overseen implementation of the Proposition 36 treatment-not-jail law for nonviolent drug offenders; that law has saved taxpayers more than $800 million and is on target to graduate more than 70,000 participants over five years, he said.
But Jett and Schwarzenegger have slammed the door on "continuing a rigorous ongoing dialogue" to protect and improve Proposition 36, Leverenz charged. A Proposition 36 statewide advisory group was disbanded last year in favor of a panel backing the governor's wish to add brief jail sentences to the treatment regimen, even as Proposition 36's state funding faces deep cuts.
Leverenz said Jett must implement standardized assessment for everyone entering state prisons to ensure each gets the substance-abuse treatment or other services needed to help him or her re-enter society successfully.
Jett told reporters Tuesday she's convinced the Schwarzenegger administration has a "fundamental understanding and commitment" to making this work. She said her office will work closely with DADP on creating a better treatment network of in-prison and community-based treatment programs to cut recidivism among inmates and parolees.
CDCR Secretary James Tilton told reporters he's "just pleased to death" to have Jett's knowledge and skills in his department. "We really are putting the 'r' in the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."
Before running DADP, Jett had directed the Attorney General's Crime and Violence Prevention Center since May 1999. Earlier, she'd been chief of the state's first Office of Women's Health within the Department of Health Services; earlier yet, she was a DADP analyst. She's a Democrat; her new position pays $144,000 a year and requires Senate confirmation.
Schwarzenegger also Tuesday named Renee Zito, 64, of San Francisco, as DADP's new director. A Democrat, Zito has been director of programs at Marin Services for Women since 2000; earlier, she ran or worked at two substance-abuse centers in New York City. Her new post pays $133,732 a year and requires Senate confirmation; Leverenz said he hopes she'll face tough questions on Proposition 36 funding.
Contact Josh Richman at firstname.lastname@example.org or (510) 208-6428. Read the Political Blotter at InsideBayArea.com.