The Twentieth Anniversary of the passing of Proposition 36 is upcoming. Approximately twenty years ago, almost sixty-one percent of California voters approved Prop 36, otherwise known as the “Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000” on November 7, 2000.

The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 permanently changed California law to allow eligible defendants convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses to receive a sentence of probation instead of incarceration. About 36,000 people enter community-based treatment under Prop. 36 each year. The law is defined in California Penal Code §§ 12101210.1 PC and 3063.1. Proposition 36 also eliminated life sentences for certain offenders with two or more prior serious or violent felony convictions whose most recent offenses are nonserious, nonviolent felonies.

For two decades, from 1980 to 2000, the number of incarcerated drug offenders in California increased by 1,100% from 2,000 in 1980 to almost 45,000 in 1999. In the 12 years prior to Prop. 36, the number of people in California prisons incarcerated for drug possession quadrupled, peaking at 20,116 in June 2000. This number dropped by one-third shortly after Prop. 36 took effect and remained lower by 11,000 (55 percent) as of June 2010. In the first seven years of the passing of Proposition 36, 84,000 participants graduated, which saved the state nearly $2 billion, expanded treatment capacity by 132 percent, and reduced the number of drug offenders in prison.

As a form of drug diversion in California, eligible defendants may have their criminal charges or conviction dismissed if they complete a court-approved drug treatment program. The law allows most people convicted for the first or second time of a nonviolent, low-level drug possession criminal offense to choose probation and community-based drug treatment instead of jail or prison. Any failure to complete this program or violation of any other term or condition of probation may cause a defendant’s probation to be revoked, which may also include serving the original sentence which may also include incarceration.

Determining eligibility under Proposition 36 may be complicated. The Dolan Law Offices may help any California resident charged with a qualifying drug crime determine whether they are eligible for probation and treatment under Proposition 36’s requirements. John Patrick Dolan defends those Californians charged with criminal offenses but he also helps them find the road to recovery through diversion programs and other available programs. Call the Dolan Law Firm today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.

About Prop 36

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