Poster Paper: Substance Use Disorder Treatment Provision in the Context of AB 109 and Proposition 47

Friday, March 9, 2018
Burkle Lobby, First Floor (Burkle Family Building at Claremont Graduate University)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Gabriel Weinberger, Pardee RAND Graduate School

On October 2011, California enacted AB 109, which along with a few minor trailer bills, came to be collectively known as Public Safety Realignment. It was arguably the most revolutionary criminal justice reform in the history of this nation. One of the main objectives of Realignment was increasing the provision of social services to justice-involved individuals, with the goal of reducing recidivism. This goal was to be achieved by transferring much of the responsibility for a defined category of justice-involved individuals to county governments. Importantly, it would now be the responsibility of county agencies to provide service provisions, such as substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, which were shown to reduce recidivism. Providing treatment through the criminal justice system was made more difficult when Proposition 47 passed in November, 2014.

My research describes the context of criminal justice in California before Realignment. This context is fundamental to understand why service provision, especially SUD treatment, is so important for the success of Realignment. I then describe the specific provisions of AB 109 that governed how county governments could supervise (or treat) AB 109-affected individuals, and how Proposition 47 became an obstacle to service provision for the counties. I argue that this policy description is essential for informing how policymakers and practitioners can adequately provide the services that will lead to the success of Realignment (i.e. reducing recidivism).

Finally, I apply these policies to SUD treatment provision in Los Angeles County. I describe the systems in place before Realignment and the County’s plan to implement AB 109. Research on social service provision demonstrates the potential pitfalls LA County will face in its implementation. I introduce some descriptive data on treatment provision for AB 109 probationers and show that less than half of those referred to treatment ever make it to at least one treatment session and that Proposition 47 induced even fewer individuals into treatment. This motivates upcoming research using LA County data on treatment and criminal justice outcomes that will explore the effect of Proposition 47 on treatment, and subsequently, recidivism rates.