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March 15, 2006
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California's Prop 36 Saves Lives, Taxpayer Money

In its first four years, Prop 36 diverted over 140,000 Californians from incarceration into treatment. Half were in treatment for the first time. 60,000 Californians will complete substance abuse treatment in the program's first five years, while tens of thousands more will spend substantial amounts of time in treatment and make tangible progress toward recovery.

Treatment access has expanded under Prop 36, with more than 700 new treatment programs licensed after the initiative took effect. Existing programs grew to serve tens of thousands more clients each year.

Meanwhile, the report found that California prisons saw a 32 percent drop in the number of people incarcerated for drug possession after Prop 36 was approved, while drug-related incarceration had risen steadily in the 12 years prior to Prop 36. Thanks largely to Prop 36, a women's prison was closed, and a new men's prison was rendered unnecessary.

Dave Fratello, a co-author of Prop 36, said, "Prop 36 is the most significant sentencing reform since the repeal of alcohol Prohibition. The results show how much good we can do by treating addiction as a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue."

Despite its track record of success, Prop 36 faces funding obstacles. Governor Schwarzenegger has called for the program's funding to be maintained at 1999 levels, which amounts to a cut because of inflation and the expansion of treatment services. Nikos Leverenz, director of the Drug Policy Alliance's capital office in Sacramento, said, "We now have data to show the real impact of Prop 36, as well as the real needs going forward. To keep faith with the voters, legislators must find the money to protect and expand Prop 36. Every new dollar we put in saves lives and money in the long run."

DPA is working in the California legislature as well as in California communities to spread the word about the successes of Prop 36 and boost its funding so it can continue to be effective. Read the executive summary and the complete report.


Common Sense for Drug Policy
California Society of Addiction Medicine
California State Association of Counties

Read commentary from Oliver H., a Prop 36 graduate.

Get the Facts
Over a dozen Proposition 36 fact sheets are available for download. Topics include: the Effectiveness of Drug Treatment, Drug Courts/Deferred Entry, and the California Correctional System.
breakdowns of the 2000 initiative votes
For background on the Prop. 36 campaign and other votes nationwide for drug policy reform, see:

Contact Lists
County Lead Agencies
and Contacts
Parole Region Contact
Probation Contacts



Drug Policy Alliance · (916) 444-3751 ·