The Politics of High Demand: Implementing Year 2 of California's Drug Law Reform Amidst Fiscal Crisis and Systemic Challenge

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

In November 2000, by a 60-40 vote, California voters passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000. SACPA is a post-conviction probation and parole program that offers first and second time non-violent drug offenders treatment instead of incarceration. SACPA went into effect on July 1, 2001, and will be completing its first two years of statewide implementation in 2003.

The implementation of this complicated initiative as its own distinct entity is the focus of this study. Using interview data and secondary data from stakeholders at both the state and county level, as well as in-depth case study data from one large county, procedural implementation efforts are examined. The paper focuses on the meanings and interpretations conferred by officials inthe daily procedural interpretation of this statute, especially as they have been shaped in Program Year 2 by a dramatic fiscal crisis in California in 2003, and by system challenge of incorporating the new approach into existing protocols and arragnements.

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Updated 05/20/2006