Proposition 36: Implementation and Accommodation of a Drug Crime Initiative by Criminal Justice Officials in California

Glenda Kelmes, University of California, Irvine
John Dombrink, University of California, Irvine

Proposition 36, California's Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, was passed in November, 2000 on California's Popular Initiative Ballot. It is a post-conviction program that offers first and second time non-violent drug offenders the opportunity to participate in community based substance abuse treatment in lieu of prison terms. Upon successful completion of a year-long treatment program, offenders may petition the court to have the conviction charges dismissed and the arrest is deemed never to have occurred. Taken as a sign of public disenchantment with the failed war on drugs, it is uncertain how effectively Proposition 36 procedures will be incorporated into existing procedure by the actors in the criminal justice system. The language of the proposition allows for the possibility of discretionary application by judges, prosecutors, probationary personnel and substance abuse treatment counselors. Proposition 36 will also interact with laws and procedures already established. How the system incorporates or rejects aspects of Proposition 36 in its daily interactions will be indicative of the success of the initiative. The present study will focus on the procedural implementation of proposition 36 in Los Angelels, Orange and San Diego counties in Southern California.

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Updated 05/20/2006