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The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, also known as Proposition 36, was passed by 61% of California voters on November 7, 2000. This vote permanently changed state law to allow first- and second-time nonviolent, simple drug possession offenders the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration. Proposition 36 went into effect on July 1, 2001, with $120 million for treatment services allocated annually for five years. [more]


Success Story of the Day: Help Us Count Down to Funding!


In coming weeks, the California Legislature will decide on the future of Prop. 36. If all goes well, the program could receive a funding boost next year! This is important because more funding means more and better treatment for people, caught up in criminal justice system, who are suffering with addiction.

Every day until the Legislature votes on funding and the governor signs off we’ll be learning more about Prop. 36 graduates—to remind us why this program is so important and needs to continue:

Cynthia M. says Prop 36 saved her life.

Cynthia M. had been in the grip of alcohol and drugs since she was 16. She says she doesn't know why she went down that path. No one else in her family did, but for her things were different. She was in and out of programs over the years, but never stayed sober for long. "I stopped believing I could change my life," she says. "I used to talk about what I was going to do in my next life. Because I was convinced I was going be an addict for the rest of this life." But in 2003, after a second round of legal problems related to her drug use, she says she received a "gift": Proposition 36.

She says she didn't realize at the time what an opportunity she was being given, but, after 7 months in treatment, she began to make changes in her life. Now she is sober, attending college and sees a future without drugs and alcohol. "I used to dream of a life not controlled by my addiction, and it is happening for me now, thanks to so many who care."

California Legislators Show Support for Treatment-not-Incarceration


In late May, two California legislative subcommittees sent a message of support for treatment when they rejected Governor Schwarzenegger's plans to slash funding for Prop. 36, the state's voter-enacted, treatment-instead-of-incarceration law. The six-year-old program makes drug treatment available to tens of thousands of people convicted of nonviolent drug offenses each year and has already saved taxpayers over $1.7 billion. [read more]
Rally Celebrates Program Success on "Prop. 36 Graduates Day"


Hundreds of graduates and supporters of California’s six-year-old, treatment-instead-of-incarceration program gathered at the State Capitol Building on April 18, 2007, for the second annual “Prop. 36 Works!” rally and to celebrate the program’s 70,000 graduates. In support of the grads, the day was declared “Prop. 36 Graduates Day” in the state as well as in the counties of Los Angeles and San Diego. See more and pictures.
Proposition 36: Improving Lives, Delivering Results

DPA released a report this week documenting the successes of Proposition 36, the California initiative that mandates treatment instead of incarceration for most people convicted of nonviolent drug possession offenses. The report, entitled Proposition 36: Improving Lives, Delivering Results, found that Prop 36 had significant benefits for substance abuse treatment as well as reforms to the state's costly prison system.
[read more]

A New Way of Life
This thirteen-minute video details the rights and responsibilities that eligible, nonviolent drug offenders have under the California voter-approved Proposition 36 program. In addition, the video highlights the social and economic successes that resulted from offenders receiving drug treatment instead of incarceration. For information on obtaining the video, contact Drug Policy Alliance's Adreana Nuñez at 916-444-3751, or [email protected].

View the video:
English | Spanish

See the list of Endorsements


Register to Vote - it's easy!


Read about what Prop 36 graduate, Oliver H. thinks about Prop 36 and how it could be improved.

Success Stories

Check out Nathan's success story.

Prop 36 in the News

The Promise of Prop. 36, San Francisco Chronicle [05/23/07]

In Time of California's Prison Crisis, Prop 36 is Solution, California Progress Report [05/11/07]

Prison Deal Won't Do the Job, North County Times [05/01/07]

Fully Fund Prop 36, LA Times [04/24/07]

Drug Treatment Rally, Sacramento Bee [04/19/07]

UCLA Finds Gov.'s Prop. 36 Proposal $109 Million Short, California Progress Report [04/14/07]

Parolees Help Community, San Bernardino Sun [04/06/07]

Give Prop. 36 a Chance, Los Angeles Times [04/05/07]

Treatment Over Jail for Drug Users is Working, OC Register [04/04/07]

Giving Props to Diversion Effort, Santa Barbara Independent [04/05/07]

Common Sense for Drug Policy
California Society of Addiction Medicine
California State Association of Counties

Read commentary from Oliver H., a Prop 36 graduate.

Get the Facts
Over a dozen Proposition 36 fact sheets are available for download. Topics include: the Effectiveness of Drug Treatment, Drug Courts/Deferred Entry, and the California Correctional System.
breakdowns of the 2000 initiative votes
For background on the Prop. 36 campaign and other votes nationwide for drug policy reform, see:

Contact Lists
County Lead Agencies
and Contacts
Parole Region Contact
Probation Contacts



Drug Policy Alliance · (916) 444-3751 · [email protected]