Proposition 36 One-Year
to a friend
July 1, 2002
Proposition 36 - One Year Later
California's Proposition 36 took
effect on July 1, 2001 after 61 percent of California
voters passed the initiative in November 2000. Since
July 1, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act
of 2000 (SACPA) has been successfully diverting tens
of thousands of low-level, non-violent drug offenders
convicted solely of possession for personal use into
community-based treatment instead of incarceration.
After one year, the Drug Policy Alliance
- SACPA's lead watchdog -- is encouraged by the commitment
of the state and counties to making the initiative
work. Thousands of individuals are receiving sorely
needed services, the treatment system has grown dramatically;
and a public health approach to drug addiction is
taking a firm hold across the state. However, implementers
of SACPA must improve the diversity of services available,
including methadone maintenance for SACPA clients
and creating an open and inclusive planning process
for the continued development of the SACPA program.
Tens of Thousands of Offenders
Receiving Treatment Instead of Incarceration
Tens of thousands of offenders have been placed in
community-based treatment instead
of incarceration under the SACPA system. From July
1 - April 30, 2002, in five counties
alone, (Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San
Diego, and Ventura) 8,946
individuals became active in treatment at an average
cost of $4,500 per treatment cycle. As compared to
the end of 2001, when 15,781 inmates were incarcerated
for drug possession in California prisons at a cost
of $26,894 per year, per person. An additional 3,648
persons have been referred to treatment in these counties
but are not yet active due to placement and transportation
issues, court procedures, and possible non-compliance.
In five counties alone, a total of 12,594 individuals
have been referred to treatment under the SACPA system
Expansion of Quality Treatment
Services Across the State
SACPA requires the State Department of Alcohol and
Drug Programs (DADP) to license all treatment facilities
that serve SACPA clients. This regulation has resulted
in increased quality and accountability for hundreds
of treatment programs in California, as well as the
rapid expansion of treatment opportunities for SACPA
defendants in the state. In just one year since the
passage of SACPA (June 1, 2001 - June 1, 2002) DADP
has increased the number of licensed and certified
programs from 1,061 to 1,567 (a 68% increase)- which
includes an increase of 3,204 new residential beds
(a 20% increase from 15,927 beds to 19,131 beds).
DADP has licensed facilities at four times the rate
prior to the passage of SACPA and will continue to
do so as applications are submitted.
Counties Investing In Treating
Addiction as a Health Problem
SACPA was passed and intended as a public health measure,
rather than a criminal justice measure, with treatment
and social services being the focal point of budgeting,
staff development and program implementation. Drug
Policy Alliance is pleased that in the first year,
the average percentage of the 58 California County
SACPA budgets going to drug treatment and other services
was 79.1%. Additionally, 53 of the 58 counties (91.4%)
required behavioral health or alcohol and other drug
professionals to provide assessment and placement
services to SACPA clients. Finally, 55 of the 58 (94.8%)
counties projected an increase in total capacity of
services during FY 2001/02.
AREAS THAT NEED IMPROVEMENT:
While the implementation of Proposition
36 has been remarkably smooth, there are still program
areas that can be improved in the second year of operation.
Diversity of Treatment
Although there has been a significant increase in
treatment facilities since the passage of SACPA, California
must work to ensure that diverse treatment modalities
are licensed by the state and equally important, contracted
by the counties to provide services for SACPA clients.
The SACPA treatment system must offer culturally competent
and specific, multi-lingual programs, dual diagnosis
programs, programs for pregnant and parenting women
with children and programs in diverse geographic locations.
Treatment provider associations, DADP, county Alcohol
and Drug Departments and the proponents of SACPA should
continue to work together to diversify the treatment
modalities available to SACPA clients.
Access to Methadone and Other
Narcotic Replacement Therapies
According to the first year SACPA county plans, only
23 of 58 counties (40%) were planning to offer methadone
and other narcotic replacement therapies as treatment,
and not just as a detoxification tool. Unfortunately,
after a year of implementation, not even all of the
counties who planned to provide methadone or other
narcotic replacement therapies have begun to place
SACPA clients in this treatment modality. Access to
methadone is a crucial component for the success of
SACPA. Methadone is the only scientifically proven
treatment for opiod (such as heroin) addiction and
must be available to all SACPA clients who are assessed
for this type of therapy.
Community Participation in Local
SACPA implementation does not end after the first
year-the initiative must continue to change with respect
to the concerns of all interested stakeholders, including
participants. County programs must respond to the
changing needs of clients and communities. Therefore,
it is imperative that affected communities, including
clients, families, treatment providers, and other
social service providers are involved in the continuing
planning process. SACPA regulations require quarterly
meetings on the implementation of the initiative.
These meetings should be well advertised and open
to the public.
FUNDING AND SACPA:
After the first year of SACPA, program
funding continues to be an area of speculation for
policy makers, county officials, treatment providers
and the public. For a vast majority of California
counties, resources allocated under SACPA have been
sufficient to implement the program. However, some
counties believe that funds will not be able to keep
up with the current demand, while others have suggested
that they may have difficulties meeting the first
year's costs with the funds they have been given.
Several points must be made and understood before
commenting on the appropriateness of funding under
- In the first year of operation,
start up and system development will add costs that
will not be incurred in future years.
- The first wave of clients under
SACPA have proven to be more severely addicted and
in need of more ancillary services than projected.
This is to be expected, since this population has
been ignored by the system for the last 30 years.
As we bring these individuals into the system and
they advance in their recovery, they will no longer
require higher levels of program funds. The system
will then see the population of SACPA clients even
out and have a range of addiction severity and need.
- After a year of operation, counties
will be able to adjust how they are spending SACPA
funds based on experience, rather than budget development
in the abstract. Counties need to look at the amount
they are spending on criminal justice and administrative
costs vs. service delivery.
SACPA has been developed and implemented
well in its first year. While it is too early to assess
definitive cost savings and implementation effectiveness,
it is clear that, in the first year SACPA is so far
delivering what proponents and voters called for -
tens of thousands of non-violent Californians receiving
treatment rather than incarceration. There are still
areas of implementation that need to be improved,
but the successes of the first year are phenomenal.
We are confident that the areas of concern mentioned
above can be overcome.
See also: Substance
Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 Progress Report
released by Drug Policy Alliance in March 2002.
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