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August 29, 2007
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Little Hoover Commission Studies Prop. 36

Thanks to data-analysis requirements in California's treatment-instead-of-incarceration law, Proposition 36 is one of the most researched sentencing reform policies in the country's history. The evidence is now being reviewed by the Little Hoover Commission, which will publish a report later this year with recommendations for improving implementation of the six-year-old program. For those who advocate for policies based on evidence rather than politics, this is welcome news.

The Commission, an independent state oversight agency whose members are nine political appointees and four sitting legislators, held two public hearings on Prop. 36 during the summer. Several stakeholders of the program, as well as graduates, testified on the program's success and recommended several ways implementation could be further improved.

The current investigation follows up on Commission recommendations made to the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (DADP) in a 2003 report, For Our Health & Safety: Joining Forces to Defeat Addiction.

Although Prop. 36 was just two years old at the time, the Commission was forward-looking when it wrote in 2003: "Proposition 36, it turns out, is more than a shift in the popular wind. It is an enormous opportunity for local and state agencies that really do share a common goal to coordinate their efforts to change lives and improve public safety. If successful, the implementation of Proposition 36 will not only demonstrate the government's faithful response to the public will, but it will document how treatment can be an effective defense against the costly consequences we now endure."

Four years later, evidence is strong that the program is an "effective defense against the costly consequences" of incarcerating nonviolent drug-addicted Californians. The program has graduated over 70,000 non-violent, low-level drug offenders, and saved the state $1.8 billion in just six years. To learn more about some of the graduates, read their success stories.

Evidence also suggests, however, that Prop. 36 implementation can and should be improved in order to demonstrate the state's "faithful response to the public will." UCLA has said the program needs at least $228.6 million to offer adequate services, $80 million more than was allocated for 2006-07. UCLA has also repeatedly called for greater access to narcotic replacement therapies, including methadone, which is proven to improve outcomes for opioid-addicted individuals.

More on the Little Hoover Commission's ongoing research into Prop. 36 is online here. The Commission is expected to issue a report on the program by the end of the year.



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]