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Prop 36 and Outpatient Rehab

Proposition 36, commonly known as “Prop 36,” was passed by California voters in 2000 and signed into law. Prop 36 provides alternative sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders and amends a previous “Three Strikes” rule set in place that would mandate a life sentence to drug offenders convicted of three serious crimes. Prop 36 is formally known as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000.1

This legislation created an influx of clients into drug treatment facilities and, since its inception, has saved the state of California millions of dollars and offered the hope of a new life for nonviolent drug offenders.

How Prop 36 Works

Proposition 36 offers a person entering the criminal justice system the option to enroll in drug treatment counseling as a substitution to jail time. The three-level system increases in intensity and length of time based on the client’s assessed addiction and continued progress.

A court approved rehab program must include at least of one the following components:

  • Drug education
  • Outpatient services
  • Residential treatment
  • Detox services or narcotic replacement therapy
  • Aftercare services.

Of the treatment options, outpatient treatment, narcotics replacement therapy (NRT), habitation daycare and residential treatment are the most widely used. Initial treatment is followed by a mandatory six-month aftercare program as part of an ongoing treatment plan.

Drug treatment programs for Prop 36 are similar to regular outpatient treatment programs and include some of the following:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Mental illness and addiction education
  • Drug testing to monitor and adjust each person’s treatment plan

Supplemental services like vocational training and literacy courses are sometimes offered as well to aid a person in job placement and life skills. Prop 36 programs do not include those offered in prison facilities.2

Effectiveness of Prop 36

Aside from the obvious drop in prison admissions, the long-lasting effects of drug treatment appear evident mainly among the offenders’ progress and maintained sobriety. The California Society of Addiction Medicine offers the following statistics as evidence of the success of Prop 36:

  • Nearly three out of four clients entering Prop. 36 treatment make substantial progress and reach positive outcomes.
  • More than 34 percent of those entering Prop 35 treatment complete their program.
  • Another 8 percent are discharged with a rating of ‘satisfactory progress.’
  • Nearly 30 percent receive what UCLA researchers call a ‘standard dose’ of treatment, meaning they spend the same amount of time in treatment as people who complete treatment. This number is virtually the same for rate for all other criminal-justice referrals.3

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse costs the United States over $600 billion each year. Addiction treatment can substantially reduce this amount since treatment is significantly cheaper than incarceration. For example, the cost for a full year of methadone maintenance programs is approximately $4,700 per person compared to the $24,000 it costs for one year of imprisonment.4

What If I Need Drug Treatment?

If you or a loved one has drug addiction and a criminal history, it’s not too late to seek help to avoid jail time. Research has shown that receiving the proper care through a drug treatment program can reduce the risk of relapse and future criminal activities. Michael’s House has a team of educated professionals specialized in helping you seek alternative treatment.

Call us today at 877-912-1740 to learn more about your options and how Prop 36 can help you stay out of jail and live a life free from the control of drugs.

By Patti Richards

1“Proposition 36.” Legislative Analyst's Office- The California Legislature's Nonpartisan Fiscal and Policy Advisor, Nov. 2018.
2“California Proposition 36: How It Works.” SHouse California Law Group. Accessed Nov. 29, 2018.
3“Proposition 36 Revisited.” Study Finds Prometa Treatment Ineffective | National Institutes of Health.  Accessed Nov. 29, 2018.
4“Is Drug Addiction Treatment Worth Its Cost?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA, Jan. 2018.