State Drug Policy Reform Movement: The Use of Ballot Initiatives and Legislation to Promote Diversion to Drug Treatment
For most of the past 25 years, the federal government and many states have adopted a tough, punitive approach to drug offenses. In recent years, changes in public perception and state budget shortfalls have spurred a policy reform movement across the political spectrum that advocates diverting low-level, nonviolent drug offenders into treatment rather than incarcerating them. In nine of the 24 states where ballot initiatives are permitted, citizens have attempted or have successfully placed initiatives on the ballot since 1996. In an additional 12 states, drug policy reformers have successfully passed legislation that allows for diversion. In this paper we briefly trace the history of the diversion-to-treatment policy reform movement, identify the successful diversion-related ballot initiatives and enacted laws from each state, and, using a qualitative content analysis approach, describe the nature and extent of those laws. Finally, we discuss the implications of these differences for state criminal justice policies. © 2006 by the Journal of Drug Issues.
Journal of Drug Issues
VanderWaal, Curtis J. Dr.; Chriqui, Jamie F.; Bishop, Rachel M.; McBride, Duane C.; and Longshore, Douglas Y., "State Drug Policy Reform Movement: The Use of Ballot Initiatives and Legislation to Promote Diversion to Drug Treatment" (2006). Faculty Publications. 1848.