About Prop 36
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Treatment not Jail
The Substance Abuse and
Crime Prevention Act, also known as Proposition
36, was passed by 61% of California voters
on November 7, 2000. This vote permanently
changed state law to allow first- and
second-time nonviolent, simple drug possession
offenders the opportunity to receive substance
abuse treatment instead of incarceration.
Proposition 36 went into effect on July
1, 2001, with $120 million for treatment
services allocated annually for five years.
Over 36,000 Californians enter treatment
each year through Prop 36.
By July 2006, when initial
funding for the program ran out, over
150,000 people benefited from Prop 36
treatment and California taxpayers saved
about $1.3 billion. Requests for expanded
funding in 2006 were ignored, and again
in 2007 Governor Schwarzenegger threatened
to keep funding at 2000 levels, which
amounts to a significant cut.
The University of California
at Los Angeles, which was chosen to run
the required evaluation of Proposition
36, has issued five annual reports on
the implementation and impact of the program
since 2003. These reports provide data
and analysis that will help state legislators
determine the future of the program. The
report, released in April 2007, shows
that Proposition 36 treatment is severely
under-funded, and that this is affecting
treatment quality. According to researchers,
the program needs at least $228.6 million
to provide adequate treatment. UCLA’s
contract with the state has been extended,
and researchers will continue to collect
and analyze data on the law and its impacts.
Your State's Budget Crisis: Treatment
Instead of Incarceration
As states across the
nation struggle to balance unwieldy budgets,
there is a growing trend to make criminal
justice reforms that both save money and
increase public safety. The emergence
of a national movement in favor of treating,
rather than incarcerating, nonviolent
drug offenders has garnered the attention
and support of legislators and the public
across the country. By taking a public
health approach toward handling drug offenders,
policymakers are saving their states millions
of dollars with policies that are proven
to be more effective in reducing drug
abuse and crime than the failed 'lock
'em up' approach. In a recent survey sponsored
by the Open Society Institute, "Changing
Attitudes Toward the Criminal Justice
System," 63% of Americans consider
drug abuse a problem that should be addressed
primarily through counseling and treatment,
rather than the criminal justice system.
Experts from the Drug Policy Alliance
and the Campaign for New Drug Policies
estimate that California saved at least
$275 million in taxpayer money during
the first year of enforcement of Proposition
36. Extraordinary efforts are underway
in other states, such as Maryland, to
divert nonviolent offenders to treatment.
In 1996, Arizonans voted in favor of Proposition
200, the Drug Medicalization Prevention
and Control Act of 1996, which sends first
and second time nonviolent drug offenders
to treatment rather than incarceration.
According to a recent
report conducted by the Supreme Court
of Arizona, Proposition 200 saved Arizona
taxpayers $6.7 million in 1999. In addition,
62% of probationers successfully completed
the drug treatment ordered by the court.
Maryland's new treatment law immediately
diverts several thousand prisoners into
drug treatment, saving the state's taxpayers
millions of dollars a year in the process.
It also provides $3 million in additional
funding for treatment and gives judges
new discretion in sentencing.
New York state recently announced that
three planned prison closings, made possible
by the state shifting almost 7,000 nonviolent
drug offenders from prison to drug treatment
over a three-year period, will save the
state a projected $18 million.
Unfortunately, the announcement was premature.
This move was proposed by the Governor,
by the legislature.
Prescription: The Costs of Imprisoning
Drug Offenders in the United States,"
The Justice Policy Institute, 2000.
Correctly: New Prison Policies for Times
of Fiscal Crisis," The Justice
Policy Institute, 2003.