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Sounding Off: Drug offenders not entitled by law

December 22, 2010|By Bob Rush

California Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, was an initiative statute that permanently changed state law to allow qualifying defendants convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses to receive a probationary sentence in lieu of incarceration.

As a condition of probation, defendants are required to participate in and complete a licensed and/or certified community drug treatment program. If the defendant fails to complete this program or violates any other term or condition of their probation, then probation can be revoked and the defendant may be required to serve an additional sentence, which may include incarceration.

Secondary conditions such as compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, intermittent explosive disorder, trichotillomania [the compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair] and additional impulse-control disorders may be associated with drug/alcohol addiction and may be recognized disorders, but they are not covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act or Proposition 36.

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As such these disorders should not be allowed the same privileges in Newport Beach as are granted to drug/alcohol addiction patients.

For example: Not all defendants convicted of a non-violent drug possession offense are eligible for probation and treatment under Proposition 36.

The California Penal Code deems the following defendants ineligible:

— Any defendant incarcerated within the last five years for a serious or violent felony.

— Any defendant convicted in the same proceeding of a non-drug related crime.

— Any defendant who, during the commission of the offense, possessed a firearm and, at the same time, was either in possession of or under the influence of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or PCP.

— Any defendant who refuses treatment.

— Any defendant who has two separate drug-related convictions, has participated in Proposition 36 twice before, and who is found by the court by convincing evidence to be unamenable to any and all forms of available drug treatment.

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