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«From Inception to Implementation: How SACPA has affected the Case Processing and Sentencing of Drug Offenders in One California County DISSERTATION ...»

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From Inception to Implementation:

How SACPA has affected the Case Processing and Sentencing

of Drug Offenders in One California County


submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements

for the degree of


in Criminology, Law and Society by Christine Lynn Gardiner

Dissertation Committee:

Professor Elliott P. Currie, Chair Professor C. Ronald Huff Professor Susan F. Turner © Christine Lynn Gardiner This dissertation of Christine Lynn Gardiner is approved and is acceptable in quality and form for

publication on microfilm and in digital formats:




Committee Chair University of California, Irvine i DEDICATION To My Family in recognition and appreciation of their great sacrifices.

Steve I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive husband and partner.

Thank you for being by my side the entire way. I love you!

Allison and Mackenzie My best cheerleaders ~ My greatest joys Follow your dreams ~ wherever they may take you.

I hope I have modeled that hard work and determination will help you accomplish any dream you can dream. I love you!

Mom Who told me I could accomplish anything I put my mind to and instilled in me a dream long ago. Thanks for your unconditional love and support. I love you!

For I know the plan I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 ii


LIST OF TABLES................................................ vi LIST OF FIGURES............................................... vii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.................................

–  –  –

1.2 Percentage of Offenders Arrested for a New Crime Within 30 37 Months of Their Original SACPA-eligible Offense

1.3 Characteristics of Orange County Proposition 36 Probationer 41 Sample Population Compared to California Probationer Population

–  –  –

6.1 Sentences for Orange County Offenders Convicted of Drug 185 Possession Offenses Before and After Proposition 36

6.2 Estimated Number of Orange County Drug Possession Offenders 191 Sentenced During 2001 and 2003-2005, With and Without Proposition 36 as Law

–  –  –

4.2 Orange County Misdemeanor Drug Arrest Trends, 1995-2004 138

4.3 Orange County SACPA-Eligible Drug Arrest Trends, 1995-2005 141

5.1 Criminal Justice System Process for Adult Felony Defendants 147

5.2 Sequence of Events during Pre-trial Stage of Court Process 149

–  –  –

6.1 Sentences for Orange County Offenders Convicted of a Drug 183 Possession Offense, 1995-2005, 3 month moving average

6.2 Estimated number of Orange County Drug Possession Offenders 190 Diverted from incarceration, 2001 and 2003-2005

6.3 Estimated Number of Orange County Offenders Sentenced to 193 Custodial and Non-Custodial Sanctions Each Year for “Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance” With and Without Proposition 36 as Law

–  –  –

I would like to express my sincere gratitude and deepest appreciation to my committee chair and mentor, Professor Elliott Currie. Without his help and guidance this dissertation would have looked very different – and not nearly as good. Discussing research findings was a favorite pastime and it was through these discussions that I learned how to find the significant in the everyday.

I would like to thank my committee members, Professor (and Dean) C. Ronald Huff and Susan F. Turner for their helpful advice throughout the course of this dissertation and my graduate career at UCI. I have learned so much from both of you! I couldn’t have asked for a more stellar, supportive, or congenial committee.

I would also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Professor Dick McCleary, who on many occasions dropped everything he was doing so he could help me with time series analysis. I have benefitted tremendously from his efforts. Dick, you are a wonderful teacher and mentor.

In addition, I would like to thank Franklin E. Zimring whose ideas inspired this research. If it has not been for the independent study I conducted under his advisement, this dissertation would not have been born. Thank you to my wonderful RA’s who spent endless hours transcribing interviews! Without you, I’d still be transcribing. Thank you to all the criminal justice professionals who so freely shared their views of how Proposition 36 affected their job. Without them, this dissertation truly would not have been possible.

Thank you to all of the staff at in the School of Social Ecology who “took great care of me” and made these past several years enjoyable -- Jean M. and Jean M., Rita, Jill, Marilyn, Margaret, and of course, Judy. I will look back on my experience at UCI with fond memories, great pride and wonderful friends. Thank you to the faculty who have inspired me and caused me to grow over the years – including my first mentor, Bryan Vila, Ph.D.

The biggest thanks go to my family, who supported me and scarified more than any person should be asked to sacrifice for the sake of another – all so that I could pursue and realize my dream. Thank you to Steve, Allie, Mackenzie, Mom, Dad, and Brian and my extended family (Howard, Benita, Jason, Brent, Sarah, Grandma Huff, Rex, Rita, Donna, Alec, Valerie, Monica, Mike, Karen, Theo, Curt, Luz, Kathleen, Vicki, Morgan,) and friends for your support and for all of your efforts on my behalf.

Financial support was provided by National Institute of Justice Dissertation Fellowship Grant #2007-IJ-CX-0031, University of California, Irvine, Frances Benton Fellowship, and the University of California, School of Social Ecology.

–  –  –

EDUCATION Ph.D., Criminology, Law and Society University of California, Irvine, June 2008 Dissertation Title: From Inception to Implementation: How the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act has Affected the Case Processing and Sentencing of Drug Offenders in One California County.

–  –  –

C.C.I.A. (Certified Crime & Intelligence Analyst) University of California, Riverside, March 1997 M.Phil., Criminology Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, England, July 1995 Thesis: “Community Policing: Is Santa Ana’s Acclaimed COP Programme Still a Success?” Faculty Advisor: Trevor Bennett, Ph.D.

B.A. with Honors, Social Ecology B.A., Economics University of California, Irvine, March 1993 Honors Thesis: “The Role of Economics in the Evolution of Criminological Theories.” Faculty Advisor: Bryan Vila, Ph.D.

Study Abroad Program Lancaster University, England, September 1990 - June 1991 Independent Research: “What Influences Magistrates’ decisions as to the sentences they invoke? A Comparison of 3 Magistrates’ Courts in the Northwest of England” Faulty Advisor: Keith Soothill, Ph.D.

–  –  –

Frances Benton Fellowship University of California, Irvine, Graduate Division, 2008 National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellowship National Institute of Justice (NIJ) 2007 Teaching Excellence and Service to the Academic Community Award Teaching, Learning and Technology Center, University of California, Irvine, 2007 Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Scholar California State University, Long Beach, 2006, 2007 Pedagogical Fellowship Teaching, Learning & Technology Center, UC, Irvine, 2006, 2007 Inaugural Professional Development Fellowship Department of Criminology, Law and Society, Univ. of California, Irvine, 2006, Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 2002, 2003, 2004


Dean’s Dissertation Writing Fellowship School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 2008 Dean’s Dissertation Gathering Fellowship School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 2006 Research Travel Fellowship Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, 1995 Sheriff’s Star Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. for Outstanding Service, 2001 Inaugural Member Nation’s first Crime Analysis Response Team, Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept


Crime Analyst, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, CA Public Safety Dispatcher, Irvine Police Department, CA Intern Probation Officer, Los Angeles County Probation Department, CA

–  –  –

On November 7th, 2000 voters of the State of California overwhelmingly passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA). This law marked a significant change in California drug policy by mandating treatment in lieu of incarceration for non-violent drug offenders.

Between 2001 and 2005, more than 150,000 drug offenders in California accepted SACPA and entered treatment. Although this is very encouraging, we do not know whether these offenders who entered treatment would have gone to prison or jail but for this legislation, as many would have been sentenced to probation even without this law. Furthermore, we do not know how agencies within the criminal justice system coped with this wide-reaching legislation or how it impacted daily operating procedures.

–  –  –

Proposition 36 changed the case processing and sentencing of drug offenders and the agencies tasked with processing and supervising these offenders in Orange County. The study includes both interviews with practitioners and interrupted time-series analyses of multiple case processing and sentencing outcomes to determine the impact of this much-watched legislation. The study describes changes in practitioner behavior and criminal justice system processes related to the implementation of SACPA in Orange County, explains changes that occurred in the case processing and sentencing of drug offenders in Orange County as a result of SACPA, estimates the number of drug offenders diverted from incarceration in Orange County due to SACPA, and offers suggestions for improvement.

The research illustrates how “law on the books” plays out as “law in action” every day. Findings reveal that (1) street level bureaucrats at every stage of the criminal justice system found (or invented) ways to circumvent and/or diminish the effect of this law; (2) there was likely a net widening effect on drug possession arrests in Orange County; (3) Proposition 36 significantly impacted sentences for Orange County drug possession offenders; and (4) fiscal resources were inadequate to provide adequate supervision or appropriate treatment and this has severely hampered the success of Proposition 36.

–  –  –

Over the past 25 years, the United States has seen a dramatic increase in its prison population (Spelman, 2001; Tonry, 1998). The segment of the prison population that grew the fastest during the 1980s and 1990s was drug offenders (Auerhahn, 2004; Blumstein, 2002; Blumstein and Beck, 1999). Nationally, the rate of offenders serving a prison term for drug crimes increased nine-fold in sixteen years, from an incarceration rate of approximately 15 per 100,000 in 1980 to 148 per 100,000 in 1996 (Blumstein, 2002). In California, the rate increased 17-fold in 20 years, from 7.5 per 100,000 population in 1980 to 130 per 100,000 population in 2000 (Males, Macallair, & Jamison, 2002). Between 1980 and 1996 drug offenders went from being the second lowest percentage of offenders in prison in the United States to being the highest (Blumstein, 2002). By and large, this increase in incarceration was the result of policy changes and the “war on drugs,” not rising crime (Blumstein & Beck, 1999; Mauer, 1999; Zimring & Hawkins, 1994). For example, in California, over 400 “tough” crime proposals were passed between 1992 and 1997 (Petersilia, Turner, & Fain, 2001), including California’s infamous “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. These and similar policies passed in the 1980s and 1990s lengthened sentences, made more offenders eligible for imprisonment, and increased the incarceration rate, not only in California, but throughout the United States (Auerhahn, 2004; Tonry, 2004).

Contradicting the above retribution-oriented crime policy trend and possibly reacting to it, the voters of the State of California overwhelmingly passed Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (SACPA) on November 7th, 2000.

Proposition 36 radically changed how criminal justice systems in California deal with drug offenders – from a crime control model to an addiction-treatment model (at least theoretically). The law mandates that all eligible offenders convicted of a “nonviolent drug possession offense”1 be sentenced to probation with a condition of participation in and completion of a drug treatment program. It diverts drug offenders away from prison and jail and into treatment. According to the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, this law has the potential to divert up to 36,000 offenders annually from prison and jail and save the state of California $150 million annually in the process. This law could have a very significant impact on drug offenders and criminal justice systems in the state of California in a very short time period.

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