With California jails and prisons still struggling with finding a reform for non-violent drug offenders the states recidivism rates continue to reach unprecedented numbers. Between 1983 and 1998, drug admissions to state and federal prisons increased sixteen-fold, from over 10,000 drug admissions in 1983 to almost 167,000 new prison entries for drug offenses in 1998 (Worrall et al, 2009). This has been a direct result of our legal system incarcerating offenders who have substance abuse related issues instead of providing a way for treatment or rehabilitation outside of incarceration. Through public policies regarding criminal justice interventions that address drug use and crime, an initiative was created to provide treatment services as a diversion to incarceration. The Diversion-to-Treatment Law that was created in California is called Proposition 36 also known as the “Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (SACPA) of 2000”. This literature review will briefly describe various themes related to substance abuse treatment and Proposition 36. These themes are: a description of proposition-36, what population the services have been directed to, goals of the initiative, what some of the overall success rates are and how this offender diversion program has impacted the California economy.
At the same time that legislatures were ratcheting up sentences for drug possession offenses and funding more and more prisons, millions of Americans lacked access to drug and alcohol treatment, psychiatric care, housing and other crucial services (Appel et al. 2004). In November of 2000 Proposition 36 was passed by a California voting majority by a margin of 61% with $120 million dollars available for treatment service funding over a five and half year span of time. Proposition 36 is a state funded treatment program that mandates probation or
continued parole with substance abuse treatment services instead of incarceration. This type of community based service was a major shift towards the integration of criminal justice and health service systems. Rehabilitating and providing treatment to offenders while still in the community rather than just sentencing the offender to time in jail has become known as “problem-solving courts”. With the collaborative efforts of the court system, the substance abuse treatment community and other professional agencies involved, treatment is now being implemented in a professional community setting. By incorporating a more public health approach into drug law non-violent drug offenders are now being given a chance at treatment.
Proposition 36 has two types of treatment services to fit the severity of each non-violent offender. First time drug offenders typically require lower levels of supervision than an individual who has multiple drug related offenses. This type of service is known as out-patient treatment planning where the client has more control over the services they wish to receive. The majority of...