Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act

Challenges and Promises for Public Health

  • Behjat Sharif California State University, Los Angeles


The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000 (SACPA), also known as Proposition 36, became effective on July 1, 2001. It allows certain nonviolent drug offenders into community-based drug treatment programs instead of incarceration. Funds have been allocated to the California counties for implementation of the law over a five year period. The program involves the cooperation and collaboration of professionals and agencies within the state’s two social service systems: criminal justice and public health. Initial evaluation indicates SACPA’s effectiveness in reducing jail and prison populations, saving funds, and providing drug treatment to a large number of SACPA recipients. The implementation process has faced a number of challenges that must be resolved to ensure Californians’ trust that treatment is more effective than punishment of drug abusers. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the SACPA initiative and present an analysis of its benefits and challenges. Additionally, suggestions are made for health educators’ intervention to ensure effectiveness of SACPA programs in improving public health.
How to Cite
Sharif, B. (2003). Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act: Challenges and Promises for Public Health. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 1(1), 32-42.