In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 36 (The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act), a law aimed at providing outpatient treatment to first and second time, non-violent drug offenders.
Since 2001, California reports a reduction in prison populations from 27 per cent to 21 percent. Money is now being diverted to outpatient treatment instead of prison at a savings to taxpayers.
Proposition 36 was designed to preserve jail and prison cells for violent and serious offenders, improve public safety by reducing drug related crime and to improve public health by reducing drug abuse through proven and effective methods.
The program is not without problems and criticism. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is critical of Proposition 36 because many in the program fail to complete treatment. He is attempting to initiate reforms in this area.
A UCLA study released in April 2006 showed Proposition 36 is saving taxpayers $2.50 for every $1 invested. For a complete report by UCLA see: http://www.uclaisap.org/prop36/documents/2008%20Final%20Report.pdf
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