Differences in Implementing California's Proposition 36: An Eight-County Study

Dorie Klein, Public Health Institute
Robin Miller, Public Health Institute
Amanda Noble, Public Health Institute
Richard Speiglman, Public Health Institute

This paper will examine key local differences that are emerging in immediate implementation of California's Proposition 36 (Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act) initiative of 2000 across 8 diverse large, medium and small counties. The data were collected by the authors in an in-person key informant survey of county policymakers conducted in 2001. Unlike most major California criminal justice ballot initiatives of recent years, Proposition 36 represents a potential lessening of adjudicatory and penal controls rather than an increase in their severity, in this case in response to drug arrests. However, like most other initiatives, Proposition 36 is written broadly enough to allow considerable discretion across the state's 58 counties in operationalizing and funding the mandated provisions. Hence the actual content and scope of the procedural changes in the criminal justice system, and the impact of the Proposition on the system and on the arrestees, are likely to vary. This paper will identify some of the key local approaches and decisions that were made in the eight sampled counties that are predicted to affect the Proposition's impact.

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Updated 05/20/2006