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"An Absolute Revolving Door": An Evaluation of Police Perception and Response to Proposition 36

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Policy Review Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2012 Pages: 275-303
Date Published
September 2012
29 pages

This study examined how law enforcement adapted to Proposition 36 (aka SACPA) in Orange County, CA.


Proposition 36 (aka SACPA) radically changed how the criminal justice system in California deals with drug offendersfrom a crime control model to an addiction-treatment model. Although it was anticipated that the diversion-to-treatment law would have a significant impact on drug offenders, courts, and corrections in the State of California, it was not anticipated to have a noticeable effect on law enforcement. Contrary to expectations, the current study found very high levels of frustration among law enforcement officers. The frustration altered the way some officers exercised discretion and led many to actively circumvent the legislation. Specifically, officers reported that they now seek out additional charges to disqualify offenders from being diverted through Proposition 36, and they are less likely to arrest offenders for being under the influence. These results are consistent with findings from other street-level bureaucracy studies of police response to new policies and programs. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.

Date Published: September 1, 2012