Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

California Court of Appeal Invalidates Legislative Amendments to Voter-Approved Drug-Treatment Diversion Initiative

In November 2009, the California Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the Superior Court of Alameda County which enjoined enforcement of a legislative enactment, senate Bill 1137, that sought to amend Prop. 36, a voter-approved initiative formally known as the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000.

Prop. 36 generally provides that those convicted of drug possession offenses should receive probation with drug treatment, rather than incarceration. It permits amendment by the Legislature only “to further its purposes.” The Court of Appeal identified those purposes as: (1) preexisting public health by expanding treatment for drug addiction and abuse; (2) enhancing public safety by reserving jail cells for violent criminals; and (3) saving money by affording treatment in lieu of incarceration.

Senate Bill 1137 contained provisions permitting incarceration for drug-related probation violations when such a sanction was prohibited by the terms of Prop. 36. The Court of Appeal held that those provisions clearly contravened the public safety and money-saving purposes of Prop. 36 (by reducing the jail space available for violent criminals and increasing the costs incurred in connection with nonviolent drug possession offenders).

By its own terms, Senate Bill 1137's amendments to Prop. 36 are not severable. The unconstitutionality of the drug-related probation violation provisions rendered the balance of senate Bill 1137 inoperative. See: Gardner v. Schwarzenegger, 178 Cal.App.4th 1366 (2009).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Gardner v. Schwarzenegger