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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 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,

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!
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • “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
  • ≈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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Additional discretion regarding participation
  • Graduated sanctions
  • Strengthen treatment component
  • Additional resources required
  • Improve communication b/t practitioners at various agencies