Sign up here to
receive our e-alerts

May 1, 2002
E-mail this page to a friend

Early Reports Indicate Prop. 36 is Working as Intended

California Department of Corrections Cites New Initiative as Primary Factor in Keeping Women out of Prison

Plan to Build New Maximum-Security Prison Unexpectedly Reversed

Contact: Whitney Taylor, (916) 444-3751

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has reported that the state’s population of women inmates has dropped 10 percent in the past year. Last week, the CDC acknowledged that this decline is due in large part to Proposition 36, California’s groundbreaking initiative that diverts people convicted of nonviolent drug possession into treatment instead of prison.

“We think the biggest factor with the women’s numbers is Proposition 36,” said Margot Bach, a CDC spokeswoman, in an April 25th Orange County Register article.

Sixty-one percent of Californians voted in favor of Proposition 36 in November 2000, hoping to decrease the number of non-violent drug offenders in the state’s prisons and jails. The initiative went into effect July 1, 2001.

In keeping with a recent Drug Policy Alliance report*, Bach’s statement confirms that Proposition 36 is being implemented true to California voters' intent. The initiative has already begun to reduce drug-related crime by providing access to sorely needed treatment services. It is also working to preserve precious law enforcement resources for violent criminals and save taxpayers millions of dollars.

In related news, last week a Senate budget subcommittee voted to stop all spending on a new maximum-security prison near Delano, California. The new facility is seen as unnecessary as the state’s prison population has fallen to 156,000 inmates from a high of 162,000.

“Prop. 36 is a much needed solution to California’s current budget deficit,” said Whitney A. Taylor, director of Proposition 36 implementation at the Drug Policy Alliance. “The $1 billion that would be spent on building a new prison in Delano should instead be put towards community-based initiatives that work.”

*Based on a March survey of county administrators and key stakeholders in six counties, the Drug Policy Alliance found that:

  • As of March 1, 2002, 13,695 individuals had been referred to treatment under Proposition 36 in the six counties examined.
  • According to the state's 2001-2002 budget analysis, it costs $25,607 per year to imprison each inmate in California. The average cost of drug treatment in California is approximately $4,000 per client. While exact figures are not yet available, it is reasonable to presume that Proposition 36 has resulted in considerable cost savings to the state already.
  • Successfully implementing Proposition 36 has fostered a unique collaboration between criminal justice and public health agencies at the county level. Never before have such distinct agencies worked so closely together on such a large scale.

More information:

Read Drug Policy Alliance's Prop 36 Update, April 2002.

View a chart of Drug Possession Offenders in California Prisons 1999-2001 prepared by Campaign for New Drug Policies

# # #

Drug Policy Alliance is the nation’s leading organization working to end the war on drugs and promote new drug policies based on common sense, science, public health and human rights. The Alliance, headquartered in New York City, has offices in California, Washington, DC and New Mexico. Ethan Nadelmann is the executive director.

See more press releases
State Prison Population of Drug Users Dropped 20% in 1 Year After Prop. 36
-- Campaign for New Drug Policies Press Release, [5/01/02]

Download the Campaign for New Drug Policies Press Release in pdf format

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]