«From Inception to Implementation: How SACPA has affected the Case Processing and Sentencing of Drug Offenders in One California County DISSERTATION ...»
For purposes of their evaluation, they collected aggregate data from every county in California, as well as individual-level data on all SACPA eligible offenders (not just the offenders who choose to participate) in ten focus counties (Orange County was not a focus county). Additionally, UCLA collected information from focus groups and conducted in-depth interviews with a sample of offenders from these counties. In the following paragraphs, I describe their findings, including: numbers and characteristics of Proposition 36 offenders, treatment findings; recidivism results, impact on crime rates, and conclusions of their cost-benefit analysis.
Table 1.1: Number of SACPA Offenders Statewide, 2001-2005
new treatment admissions referred by the criminal justice system (Hawkin et al., 20076). Between July 2001 and July 2005, more than 193,000 drug offenders accepted Proposition 36 diversion and were referred for treatment, approximately 140,000 offenders received some treatment, and approximately 60,000 offenders completed treatment (Longshore et al., 2003; Longshore et al., 2005a, 2005b;
Longshore et al., 2004; Urada & Longshore, 2007). As Table 1.1 indicates, each year approximately 50,000 drug offenders throughout the state agreed to participate in SACPA and were referred for treatment. Of those, approximately 36,000 offenders entered treatment each year. Each year, approximately 85% of those who agreed in court to participate actually showed up to be assessed by a treatment provider. Of those who had their treatment needs assessed, approximately 85% actually began treatment (the others failed to show up to any meetings). Thus, each year approximately 72% of offenders who were referred to treatment actually entered treatment. Finally, approximately 33.5% of offenders who entered treatment, completed it (Longshore and Urada, 2007; Longshore et al., 2005). These percentages are similar to no-show and treatment-completion rates of drug treatment programs overall (Longshore and Urada, 2007; Longshore et al., 2005); despite the fact that SACPA offenders have very extensive drug use histories and addictions.
characteristics remained constant between 2001 - 2005 (Longshore and Urada, 2007).
Most offenders were male (73%), with an average age of 35, and 53% were users of methamphetamine (Longshore and Urada, 2007; Longshore et al., 2005).
Approximately 45% of offenders were non-Hispanic white, 34% were Hispanic, 14% were African American, 3% were Asian/Pacific Islander and 2% were Native American (Longshore and Urada, 2007).
Half of all SACPA clients entered drug treatment for the first time as a result of the law and 57% of these first-time treatment clients had been using drugs for more than ten years (Longshore and Urada, 2007; Longshore et al., 2005). One in five SACPA offenders had been using drugs for more than 20 years before entering treatment for the first time (Longshore and Urada, 2007). The overwhelming majority of SACPA clients (84%) received treatment in outpatient programs (Longshore and Urada, 2007). Despite validated need, SACPA clients were less likely to be placed in residential treatment and thus were more likely to be under-treated than non-SACPA criminal justice referrals (Hawkin et al., 20076). This under-treatment (the difference between the treatment needed and treatment provided) was most pronounced for young Hispanic offenders and the under-treatment was greatest for heavy-users who reported methamphetamine as their primary drug of choice (Hawkin et al., 20076).
Table 1.2: Percent of Offenders Arrested for a New Crime within 30 Months of their Original SACPA-Eligible Offense
completed treatment had better outcomes (no new arrests, less drug use, and more employment) at a 30-month post-arrest follow-up than did offenders who entered, but did not complete treatment and those who never entered treatment (see Table 1.2).
55.5% of offenders who were referred for but did not receive treatment had a new drug arrest within 30 months of their original SACPA-eligible arrest. This is in comparison to 60.5% of offenders who started but did not complete treatment and 42.7% of offenders who completed treatment (Urada et al., 20074). Those who completed treatment had lower rates of property and violent offense arrests as well as misdemeanor and felony arrests (regardless of type) (Urada et al., 20074; Longshore et al., 2005). In a separate study, Cosden et al. (2006) found that SACPA clients who completed treatment spent fewer days in jail during the 12 months after discharge than those who did not complete treatment.
In comparison to a group of similar offenders prior to SACPA, 1st and 2nd year SACPA offenders had a higher rate of drug arrests (50% to 38.1%) and property arrests (16.5% and 10.7%) after a 30-month follow-up, but similarly low rates of arrests for violent offenses (Urada et al., 20074; Longshore et al., 2005). According to the researchers, this may be attributable to the short-term incarceration experienced by pre-SACPA offenders and the accompanying incapacitation effect which could be confounding the results. As an example, 9% of SACPA-era non-participants were sentenced to jail or prison while 22.5% of pre-SACPA eligible offenders were sentenced to jail or prison (Longshore et al., 2005). Also of interest, 15.6% of preSACPA eligible offenders were sentenced to probation or parole with a drug treatment component (Longshore et al., 2005). Of the 22.5% of pre-SACPA offenders sentenced to incarceration, 69.8% were sentenced to short terms in jail and the other 30% were sentenced to prison (Longshore et al., 2005). Farabee et al. (2004) also found that SACPA clients were more likely than non-SACPA criminal justice clients and non-criminal justice system clients to be rearrested for a drug crime within the 12 months after treatment admission.
that there were no consistent changes in crime trends that could be attributed to SACPA. Researchers from RAND also looked at the impact of SACPA on crime rates, specifically in Orange County, and found that although commercial burglary reports and arrests for possession of drug paraphernalia increased during the study period they could not attribute either increase to Proposition 36 because other categories of crime that were expected to be impacted (such as residential burglaries, auto thefts, etc.) were unaffected. Thus, two teams of researchers concluded that SACPA had no noticeable impact on crime in California (Longshore et al., 20075;
Hiromoto et al., 2006?).
Results of a cost-benefit analysis conducted by UCLA indicated that taxpayers saved $2.50 for every $1 spent on SACPA for offenders who did not complete treatment and $4 for every $1 invested for offenders who completed treatment (Longshore et al., 2006). Savings were primarily attributed to reduced prison and jail costs and to a lesser degree, reduced parole costs for SACPA offenders (on average savings per offender were $3,547 for prison, $1,531 for jail, and $221 for parole).
Categories in which SACPA offenders had higher costs than pre-SACPA offenders were: probation ($198 more), treatment ($743 more), healthcare ($230 more) and arrest and conviction costs ($1,326 more). As expected, benefits increased as offenders spent more time in treatment. The study also revealed that 1.6% of SACPAeligible offenders, those with five or more prior convictions, had post-conviction crime costs ten times higher than the average SACPA-eligible offender (Longshore et al., 2006).
In summary, UCLA found that SACPA is cost-effective for tax payers and that it has provided an incentive and an avenue for drug-addicted offenders to enter treatment, many for the first time. However, many of these clients are being undertreated because the supply of residential treatment facilities in California is grossly inadequate (California Legislative Analyst's Office, 1999; Hawken, Anglin, & Conner, 2007), particularly for dually diagnosed offenders. It is also apparent that most SACPA clients are not recreational users or “first time” offenders, and yet the “treatment completion rate” is similar to (and equally as low as) other client populations and programs studied (Longshore et al., 2004).
Orange County Probation Department First-Year Study Findings from Orange County studies echoed the statewide study conducted by UCLA in terms of offenders’ level of addiction and the inadequate number of residential treatment beds available for SACPA offenders (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005; Grand Jury Report, 2003). In Orange County, 3863 offenders participated in SACPA during 2001-02, the first year of implementation and a total of 11,700 offenders were involved during the first three years, 2001-2004 (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). Offenders in Orange County during the first year of implementation had similar (though not identical) characteristics to the statewide sample: two-thirds were male (vs. 73% for CA) and 53% cited methamphetamine as their drug of choice (same for CA). The samples were different in that non-Hispanic whites comprised a much larger proportion of offenders in Orange County (60% vs.
44.5% for CA) (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005).
Table 1.3: Characteristics of Orange County Proposition 36 Probationer Sample Population Compared to California Probationer Population
During the first year of implementation, 72.1% of defendants were assessed and referred for treatment and 58.5% of defendants actually enrolled in treatment (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). These rates were considerably lower than the state-wide average of approximately 85% assessed and 69% entering treatment during the first year (Longshore et al., 2003). This was noted by practitioners in Orange County and steps were taken to increase the show rate in subsequent years (this will be discussed in chapter 6). Once an offender in Orange County entered treatment, however, they were more likely to complete treatment (40.9% Orange County vs.
34.4% CA) (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). Additionally, researchers found that 23.9% of all SACPA offenders in Orange County completed treatment and 18.8% had their cases successfully dismissed. Of all the first-year SACPA probationers in Orange County, 42% had been terminated from probation (either successfully or unsuccessfully), 31% were still on active probation, 19% were out on warrants, and 7% were on conditional or relief of supervision status as of June 30, 2004 (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). Of the total number of offenders terminated from probation, 45% had their cases dismissed while 39% went to state prison (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005).
Of all persons on probation as of July 31, 2004, 45% were either on PC1210 probation or had been (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). The PC1210 probationers generally had a previous history of less dangerous charges than did the typical probationer in Orange County (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). Researchers also noted significant improvement on a variety of factors for probationers who successfully completed treatment and had their cases dismissed as well as for those who terminated their PC1210 probation for reasons other than going to prison (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005).
Between November 2000 and July 2002, Orange County increased the number of residential treatment programs in the county by 36%; this compared favorably to a state-wide average increase in residential treatment programs of 22% (Hilger, Jenkins, and Nafday, 2005). This is interesting, given Percival’s finding that liberal counties added more residential treatment facilities during the first year of SACPA than conservative or moderate counties did (2005) and Orange County is not usually categorized as liberal. This finding suggests that what matters most are the beliefs of the county stakeholders responsible for implementing the law (in this case, criminal justice professionals).
Implementation Study On a different project, RAND researchers studied the Proposition 36 implementation process. They interviewed key members of the implementation team in Orange County (for instance judges, police commanders, public defenders, probation managers, district attorneys and treatment providers) to ascertain how individuals and agencies cooperated to implement Proposition 36 and to identify the lessons that were learned during the implementation process. They found that Orange County was particularly well prepared to implement Proposition 36 because of it’s prior experience with drug courts and that the county benefited from the prosecutor’s “we will make this work” attitude (Martin Iguchi, personal communication, November 8, 2005).
At this point we know that approximately 190,000 people in California were eligible for SACPA diversion and that 165,000 offenders accepted SACPA and entered treatment during the first four years of the law, but we don’t 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 whether local law enforcement officers are arresting more people in need of treatment simply because it is now available to people, regardless of ability to pay; or whether prosecutor charging behavior has changed as a result of this law. Also, all offenders sentenced to Proposition 36 are sentenced to probation; how has the probation department handled the increased caseloads. Prior studies do not answer these questions. The only way to understand how these agencies and players responded to internal or external stimuli is by conducting field interviews to illuminate and interpret changes that occur in various places throughout the criminal justice system.