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Implementing SACPA: Orange County’s Experience. October 16, 2008 ACJR Semi-annual Conference Christie Gardiner, Ph.D. California State University, Fullerton [email protected] This research was partially funded by National Institute of Justice Dissertation Research Grant, 2007-IJ-CX-0031.

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Implementing sacpa orange county s experience

Implementing SACPA:Orange County’s Experience

October 16, 2008ACJR Semi-annual ConferenceChristie Gardiner, Ph.D.California State University, [email protected]

This research was partially funded by National Institute of Justice Dissertation Research Grant, 2007-IJ-CX-0031


How did sacpa affect drug offenders and the criminal justice system in orange county
How did SACPA affect drug offenders and the criminal justice system in Orange County?

  • Mixed Methods Research

    • Interviews, Observations, Time Series Analysis

  • Semi-structured interviews

    • 60+ practitioners from 14 agencies

    • Grounded theory approach


Ready set implement
Ready… Set … Implement! system in Orange County?

  • Pilot Study began March 2001

  • Dedicated “Prop36” Court model

  • Navigated confidentiality & personality issues

  • Implementation Hurdles

  • Previous collaborations were a huge benefit


Unintended Consequences and Frustration lead Law Enforcement Officers to adopt strategies that circumvent the law

  • Patrol Officers

    • Changes in arresting behavior

  • Narcotics Units

    • More time spent on surveillance, working other crimes




Estimated Number of O.C. Drug Possession Offenders Sentenced 2001-2005*, with and without Prop36 as Law

* Excluding 2004, due to data issues at the state level


Orange County Jail 2001-2005

  • More arrests  more bookings

  • Prop36 offenders: More violations, new crimes

  • CDCR overcrowding affects OCJ

  • “No noticeable impact.”

    • -- How can that be?


O c superior court
O.C. Superior Court 2001-2005

  • More pleas at earlier stages

  • Most cases “re-handled” multiple times

    • Judges use discretion to order offenders to court

  • City Attorney’s Office adopted “letter of the law” stance

  • Public Defender absorbed additional work


Probation department was overwhelmed
Probation Department was overwhelmed 2001-2005

  • 45% of all new cases were Prop. 36’ers

  • On average, 325 new Prop. 36’ers each month

  • Staff strain (1:100 caseloads became 1:250)


Probation dept had to innovate in order to cope
Probation Dept. had to innovate in order to cope 2001-2005

  • “Co-locate” strategy

  • Department re-organization

  • Many offenders “banked”

  • Petitioned Court to “relieve supervision” responsibility upon completion of treatment

  • Created “dual diagnosis” caseloads

  • Assigned misdemeanor cases to HCA


Parole agents navigate the system to achieve their desired outcomes
Parole Agents navigate the system to achieve their desired outcomes

  • Agents encourage parolees to waive their rights to Prop36

  • Decision to violate or “COP” is complex

    • Based on expected action by Board

  • Different funding streams complicates treatment options


Summary impacts on o c offenders
Summary… Impacts on O.C. offenders outcomes

  • ≈3,400 O.C. drug offenders are diverted from incarceration and receive treatment annually

  • Unintended Consequences

    • Net widening effect on arrests

    • More offenders convicted of misdemeanor drug offenses after being arrested for felony drug crimes


Summary impacts on o c practitioners
Summary: Impacts on O.C. practitioners outcomes

  • Street-level bureaucrats found ways to circumvent law to achieve goals

  • Intended and Unintended Consequences

    • Frustrated many practitioners

    • Changed the makeup & success of drug courts

    • Spurred major innovation at some agencies

      • Inadequate funds

    • Expanded collaborations b/t CJS and Healthcare


Lessons from o c
Lessons from O.C. outcomes

  • Prop36 is not working as intended

  • Two issues at the heart of the matter

    • a mismatch between offenders’ treatment needs and the treatment provided by Proposition 36 funds

    • balancing failure as a part of addiction with the incentives and sanctions that are necessary components of behavior modification programs


Suggested improvements
Suggested improvements outcomes

  • Additional discretion regarding participation

  • Graduated sanctions

  • Strengthen treatment component

  • Additional resources required

  • Improve communication b/t practitioners at various agencies


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