California Proposition 36

Proposition 36 (California)

Proposition 36 is a less formal name given to the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act that became law in California on July 1, 2001. Under its provisions, first and second-time offenders who were found guilty of drug-related offenses could be ordered into a treatment program instead of being sentenced to serve time in a correctional institution.

Funding for Proposition 36

When Proposition 36 was passed, $120 million in funding was set aside for treatment annually for five years. Each year, approximately 36,000 California residents received help for drug addiction issues under this law.

Who Qualifies under Proposition 36

Under this law, people convicted of drug possession or being under the influence of a drug qualify for treatment instead of incarceration. Other classes of offenders who qualify are people on probation who violate its terms due to a drug-related offense and offenders on parole who commit a non-violent, drug-related parole violation.

Exclusions Under Proposition 36

A prior conviction for a violent felony excludes a person from being considered for sentencing under Proposition 36. Offenders may refuse treatment if they wish. In that case, they would be facing sentencing under existing criminal law.

Court Supervised Treatment

When a person is convicted of possession or being under the influence, the judge would sentence the offender to probation as well as a treatment program lasting up to 12 months. Part of the sentence includes the judge ordering conditions for the probation.

Conditions of Probation

Examples of conditions that may be attached to an offender’s probation include checking in with a probation officer regularly or appearing before the court at set intervals. The individual may also be ordered to contribute toward the cost of treatment or have restrictions imposed on where he or she can live. The judge may also impose conditions on who the offender can associate with and/or his or her lifestyle.

Probation Violations: Non-drug Related

Proposition 36 treats non-drug-related probation violations differently than drug-related ones. If the probation violation falls into the non-drug related category, such as failing to check in with the probation officer as ordered, the offender may be sentenced to 12-36 months in jail.

Probation Violations: Drug Related

The court has discretion when dealing with drug-related probation violations. One option is to order the offender into a more restrictive treatment program. If the offender is deemed to be a danger to others, the judge can also order the probation revoked immediately and the offender will be incarcerated instead.

Repeated Drug-Related Probation Violations

The court may make changes to the terms of an offender’s probation the first couple of times that a drug-related probation violation occurs. A third violation of this type may lead to a determination that the offender is “unamenable to treatment” and his or her probation will be revoked. The court may impose a sentence of 12-36 months instead of allowing the offender to continue to seek treatment.

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