Drug Treatment for Drug-Abusing Criminal Offenders

Insights from California's Proposition 36 and Arizona's Proposition 200

A number of states have considered laws or ballot initiatives intended to divert drug-abusing criminal offenders into treatment programs instead of prison or jail.

Most of the research on these initiatives focuses on California's Proposition 36 and Arizona's Proposition 200. Proposition 36 refers to the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, which was passed by 61 percent of California voters in November 2000. The Act increased state funding for treatment and allowed eligible nonviolent drug offenders who plead guilty to enter drug treatment instead of receiving a traditional sentence.

Proposition 200 refers to the Drug Medicalization, Prevention and Control Act, which was passed by 64 percent of Arizona voters in November 1996. The Act requires a court to sentence first- and second-time nonviolent offenders who are convicted of personal possession or use of a controlled substance to probation and drug treatment. Proposition 200 also established the Drug Treatment and Education Fund which is funded by revenues from a liquor tax. It is also important to note that some states have rejected related ballot initiatives.