Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected
Livestream event happening now: Culinary Connections - What’s Good In DTLA Food With How To LA

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.


UCLA Report on Prop 36 Provides Window into Prop 5

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.


Photo by kr4gin via Flickr

Proposition 5, the Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, on the California ballot this year, significantly expands on Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act, passed in California in 2000 by 61% of voters. In this regard, it is quite timely that this month, the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Program released its 2008 report on the progress of Proposition 36 (link to .pdf of report). Prop 36 allows first and second time non-violent, simple drug possession offenders the opportunity to receive substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration.

The pros:

  • More than 30,000 drug offenders entered treatment each year (instead of prison), and half were first time nonviolent drug offenders.
  • Taxpayers have saved around $2 for each $1 spent in the program -- what amounts to several million dollars since Prop 36's implementation.
  • Among those who completed treatment, the rates of arrests for nonviolent crimes decreased.
  • And violent crime arrests decreased more in California than nationally since the prop's implementation.

The cons:

  • The proposition's success has been undermined by inadequate funding, and a further 10% cut to funding by Gov Schwarzenegger during the state's fiscal problems.
  • About 1/2 of participants in the outpatient setting dropped out of treatment after 90 days (although this was consistent with other outpatient treatment settings in the nation).
  • Non-violent drug and property crimes were higher among Prop 36 participants than among a comparison group of drug offenders before Prop 36 was introduced (however, the study authors note that this may be skewed by data showing that before Prop 36, more drug offenders were sentenced to prison and so were unable to commit a repeat drug offense).
Support for LAist comes from

The report's authors made recommendations for improvement, including residential treatment options, better integration of substance abuse and mental health services for the mentally ill homeless population, graduated sanctions (ranging from more drug-test requirements to short jail stays), and employment assistance.
Proposition 5, which is on the California ballot this year, would incorporate Prop 36 into a tiered system of treatment and supervision for nonviolent drug offenders. Prop 5 promises to save taxpayers money, reduce prison overcrowding, and provide treatment and rehabilitation options to nonviolent drug offenders instead of prison -- all common-sense and humane solutions. For more information, check out LAist's analysis of Proposition 5.