On Oct. 10, 2023, the “Hope California” bill by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
AB 1360 creates a voluntary pilot program in Yolo and Sacramento Counties that would allow courts to authorize temporary confined drug treatment, instead of jail or prison, for those who have committed certain non-violent crimes due to their Substance Use Disorder (SUD). The law also allows counties to create wrap-around services and expungement of records for offenders who have completed treatment. McCarty co-authored AB 1360 with Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig. Senator Bill Dodd is one of the co-authors of AB 1360.
Those eligible for the treatment program created by AB 1360 would include people who have committed drug-fueled crimes that, without this program and their voluntary decision to participate, would have resulted in a prison or jail sentence , if convicted. Those who commit misdemeanors, simple drug possession, sex offenses and serious/violent offenses are ineligible.
Approved participants will be assessed by treatment providers who will determine the level, length and type of treatment needed. Once participants complete the secured inpatient program, they may be transferred to a home treatment facility or receive intensive outpatient treatment. Upon successful completion of the program, the court is empowered to dismiss current and prior drug convictions.
“Incarcerated individuals diagnosed with SUDs are the fastest growing population in our county jail and state prison systems,” McCarty said. “For many individuals suffering from SUDS, evidence-based residential and professional treatment programs are the most effective options. Our efforts in California to treat the disease, many of them also suffer with mental health issues or experiencing homelessness, was unsuccessful. AB 1360 gives counties more options for helping those who need it most.”
According to the National Institution of Health (NIH) and the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), an estimated 65% of the prison and jail population in the United States has an active SUD. Another 20% did not meet the official criteria for a SUD, but were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime. In addition, the economic and social costs of untreated substance abuse in the US now exceed $700 billion.
“I commend Assembly Member McCarty for her leadership of Hope California and the legislature and Governor Newsom as well,” Reisig said. “We all recognize that it is time to offer an alternative method of rehabilitation for some seriously addicted people who have been convicted of non-violent crimes. Hopefully California will allow these individuals to choose a path designed to hold them accountable for their crimes, while also receiving strong treatment in a safe environment. Ultimately, we all have hope that through this new approach, public safety will be improved, and more offenders will recover and become productive members of society.