On November 7, 2000, voters of the State of California overwhelmingly passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA). This law marked a significant change in California drug policy by mandating treatment in lieu of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. In the first three years of the law, more than 100,000 drug offenders in California accepted SACPA and entered treatment. Although this is very encouraging, we do not know whether these offenders who entered treatment would have gone to prison or jail but for this legislation, as many would have been sentenced to probation even without this law. Furthermore, we do not know how agencies within the criminal justice system coped with this wide-reaching legislation and if/how it impacted daily operating procedures.
The current study uses a case study approach to understand how Proposition 36 changed the case processing and sentencing of drug offenders and the agencies tasked with processing and supervising these offenders in one California County. The study includes both time-series analyses of multiple case processing and sentencing outcomes and interviews with practitioners to determine the impact of this much-watched legislation. Upon completion, the study will (1) describe changes that occurred in the case processing and sentencing of drug offenders in the case study county as a result of SACPA; (2) estimate the number of drug offenders diverted from incarceration in the case study county due to SACPA; and (3) describe changes in practitioner behavior or criminal justice system processes related to the implementation of SACPA in the case study county. It is expected that findings will help to inform future policy directives and stimulate additional studies in this important area of criminal justice system research.nca/ncf