In 2000, California voters overwhelmingly approved Prop 36, a ballot measure that offers non-violent drug offenders treatment instead of jail. But now the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act is on life support, if not altogether dead, despite data that shows it has saved taxpayers money and tamped down recidivism among its participants.
State prison reforms are supposed to reduce dangerously overcrowded prison populations and help to alleviate the state’s fiscal crisis. But trial courts in San Mateo are feeling the squeeze of the fiscal crisis and the reforms on the county.
Advocates for Native American survivors of intimate violence cheered when they won the right to prosecute non-Indian assailants in tribal court. That change came with a provision in the Violence Against Women Act earlier this year. On at least one slice of California sovereign tribal land, the change also means defendants will have to engage with a very different criminal justice system – one that is based on restorative justice.
When California legislators decided that certain felons no longer would be held in the state’s overflowing prisons, they were under pressure from a court order to relieve the system’s dangerously overcrowded conditions. But part of their goal also was to keep lower-level convicts near rehabilitative programs in their own communities. Some counties are embracing the goal of rehabilitation, too, and are turning to local non-profits to help people convicted of non-violent, non-serious and non-sexual crimes start a new life.
What happens at Veteran’s Treatment Court is anything but typical. Modeled on drug treatment courts, they provide extra support and treatment opportunities for vets.