The Devil's in the Details: Implementing Initiative Mandated Drug Sentencing Reform in California

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

Proposition 36, California's Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act 2000, went into effect on July 1, 2001, and will be completing its first year of statewide implementation in 2002. Taken as a baseline for program evaluations and future outcome studies of client success or failure, the implementation of this complicated initiative as its own distinct entity is the focus of this study. Using indicators from stakeholders at both the state and county level, as well as in-depth case study data from three counties, procedural implementation efforts are examined. The thesis of this study centers on system-wide rejection and incorporation of outsider-generated change to criminal justice practices that are regarded as legitimate and well functioning at the outset. As a citizen mandated initiative that alters sentencing schemes for drug offenders, the meanings and interpretations conferred by officials in the daily procedural interpretation of this statute are of tremendous importance. Preliminary data from Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Imperial counties as representatives from aggregate categories of large, medium and small sized counties, will be evaluated and discussed within this context.

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Updated 05/20/2006