The Programs Demise

The program reached its peak in 1970 when twenty-four state facilities with 4,100 beds and a staff of over 5,000 provided services to 6,600 addicts. Followup studies of the program at this time were few, but they tended to indicate some positive outcomes (Winick, 1988). After 1970, the program began to lose public support and became a regular political target because of charges of cost overruns, allegations of staff brutality, and questionable administrative procedures (Winick, 1988). There was also a general change in philosophy that drew politicians away from supporting state-run institutions and toward recommending community-based treatment. In addition, political leaders began to move away from rehabilitation and toward harsh criminal sanctions for persons possessing or selling narcotics.

Governor Rockefeller announced in 1971 that he had lost confidence in the New York program and initiated a two-thirds cutback in budget and clients. The number of occupied beds steadily diminished because of these cuts and by 1979 the last two centers shut down(Winick, 1988). From 1966 to 1979, the program had cost approximately $1 billion. By the time the program was closed, each resident was costing an average of $29,000 per year, as compared with $8,500 for a resident in a Therapeutic Community and $14,500 for a prison inmate (Winick, 1988). In 1980, the state legislature repealed the civil commitment law.

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