Crime Trends and the Effect of Mandated Drug Treatment

Evidence from California's Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act

Published In: Journal of Criminal Justice, v. 37, no. 2, Mar./Apr. 2009, p. 109-113

by John L. Worrall, Scott Hiromoto, Nancy Merritt, Dan Du, Jerry O. Jacobson, Martin Y. Iguchi

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The Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (SACPA), implemented statewide in California in July 2001, mandates drug treatment rather than incarceration for certain nonviolent drug offenders. Critics of the legislation suggest that crime increased as a result of the legislation, but researchers have largely ignored this issue. Utilizing time series methodology applied across several independent data sets from Orange County, California, the effects of SACPA on crime were assessed. Results indicate that significant increases in commercial burglaries and paraphernalia arrests may have been attributed to SACPA, but the overall pattern does not support a conclusion that crime increased markedly.

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