Proposition 36 ‘Successful’ Despite Reaching Fewer Drug Offenders Than Anticipated
Although Proposition 36 is a "success," the measure is reaching fewer people overall and more "hard-core" substance users than expected, according to a report released Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Alcohol and Drug Program Administration, the Los Angeles Times reports. The measure, which was enacted in July 2001, allows many first- and second-time drug offenders to receive treatment rather than prison sentences. The measure does not apply to those convicted of selling drugs or to those previously convicted of a violent felony. According to the report, approximately 8,329 individuals -- nearly 7,000 fewer than expected -- in Los Angeles County were sentenced under Proposition 36 in its first year, and about 20% of those did not report for treatment. The report monitored defendants at several stages -- sentencing, assessment and placement in a treatment center -- and found a substantial drop in participants at each stage; approximately half of those sentenced to treatment under the measure were current participants as of June 30. More than 60 participants have completed treatment and have had their court cases dismissed as a result, according to the report. Michael Tynan, a judge who supervises all county drug court programs, said that the measure should be altered to ensure that all individuals convicted of drug crimes either complete treatment programs or receive jail time. Currently, such individuals have "several chances" to complete treatment programs before being sent to jail, the Times reports. Tynan added that the program is currently "wasting an awful lot of money on people who can't benefit from such a lightweight [treatment] program." Approximately 70% of those currently sentenced under the measure are convicted of felony drug possession and often require "more services than casual drug users" (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 11/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.