Drug Treatment Program Compliance and Resistance Activities during Implementation of California's Proposition 36

By Reynolds, Grace | Journal of Health and Human Services Administration, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Drug Treatment Program Compliance and Resistance Activities during Implementation of California's Proposition 36


Reynolds, Grace, Journal of Health and Human Services Administration


BACKGROUND

In November 2000, California voters approved Proposition 36, the "Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA)." This measure marked major changes to state law so that non-violent adult offenders who use or possess illegal drugs receive treatment rather than incarceration or probation with treatment. The California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs promulgated guiding principles for the implementation of Proposition 36 statewide (Jett, 2001).

As of this writing, outcome data on offenders undergoing treatment under Proposition 36 are limited, but "best practices" are starting to be identified (Hser et al., 2003). Results from the statewide evaluation for Los Angeles County indicate that the majority of offenders being remanded under Proposition 36 were methamphetamine users, followed by crack and cocaine users (Alcohol and Drug Programs County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services, 2004). This is true for the state of California as a whole (State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, 2002). The first Annual Report to the Legislature on Proposition 36 also indicated that more than 30,000 drug offenders had been referred to treatment in its first year of implementation and that for more than half of them, Proposition 36 was providing their first experience of drug treatment (State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, 2002). The Drug Policy Institute reported that treatment slots in California increased by 68 percent during the first year of Proposition 36, but the majority of these slots were for lower level outpatient treatment. The State of California also reported that treatment capacity had expanded as a result of Proposition 36. There was an increase of 42 percent in the overall number of licensed programs statewide, with certified residential programs increasing by 17 percent and certified outpatient programs increasing by 81 percent (State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, 2002).

Early problems with Proposition 36 implementation have been noted by Spieglman, et al. (2003), including underestimation of the severity of addiction found in clients remanded under Proposition 36, and procedural differences between counties in the interface between the criminal justice system and the drug treatment system. Evans and Longshore (2004), and Wiley, et al. (2004) also explored the differences in clients served by drug treatment providers both before and after Proposition 36, to understand the needs of clients remanded under Proposition 36. Auerhahn (2004) examined whether Proposition 36 would meet the goal of reducing the overall numbers of prisoners within the state correctional system.

Public administration research has always been interested in implementation of publicly funded programs. One approach to assessing implementation successes, failures, and unintended consequences is a case study approach exemplified by Pressman and Wildavsky (1984) and Moore (1997). As the trend toward outsourcing of core functions of government to other sectors (non-profit and for-profit organizations) through the contracting process has become an established practice, research has focused on the impact this outsourcing has had on both service delivery and on the organizations involved (Bigelow & Stone, 1995; Townsend, 2004). Hardy, Teruya, Longshore, and Hser (2005) used Winter's implementation framework to explore these service delivery issues in their qualitative work on implementation of Proposition 36.

The purpose of this paper is to determine the association of compliance and resistance activities with overall program experience with Proposition 36. This paper develops some hypotheses based on the literature of compliance and resistance activities as an organizational response to implementation of new programs, presents information on the methods and data collection employed to test these hypotheses, the findings, and conclusions and discusses implications of the findings and research for public administrators. …

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