OLR Research Report

August 11, 1998 98-R-1002

FROM: Sandra Norman-Eady, Senior Attorney

RE: Update on Arizona's Proposition 200

You asked for an update on Arizona's progress in implementing Proposition 200. You were particularly interested in the (1) number of inmates serving their full sentence because they committed violent crimes while on drugs, (2) number released after being incarcerated for mere possession, (3) number of defendants on probation for mere possession, and (4) status of the drug education and treatment program. You also wanted a copy of the reports from Law Revision's drug study and the governor's drug commission.


In 1996, Arizona voters passed an initiative (Proposition 200) allowing doctors to prescribe or recommend Schedule I drugs for certain debilitating or terminal illnesses and requiring probation rather than jail for nonviolent personal drug users. The initiative also requires drug users who commit violent offenses to serve 100% of their sentences and establishes a drug fund and a treatment program.

After contacting the governor's office, the Department of Correction (DOC), Parole and Probation, DOC's Office of Offender Information, and Court Administration, we found out very little about Arizona's initiatives to implement Proposition 200. Specifically, DOC does not have a total count of inmates serving 100% of their sentences because they committed violent crimes. The department's best guess is approximately 3,000.

When Arizona voters adopted Proposition 200, 1,335 inmates were incarcerated for possession of drugs. Of the 1,335, DOC identified 140 who were eligible for release. More than one-half of the 140 have been released. The remainder will be released later this year and early next year.

Neither probation nor court administration knows the number of defendants convicted of personal possession who are placed on probation in lieu of jail. But, in Arizona, like Connecticut, courts place most first offenders convicted of personal possession on probation. Beginning this fiscal year, court administration will maintain these statistics as a way to measure the effect the state-operated drug education program has on the state's drug population.

We asked the Adult Services Division of Arizona's Court Administration for information on the drug education and treatment program established by Proposition 200 (e.g., the amount appropriated to the program, the number of participants, and the number of people who completed the program). In response, the division sent us the statutory codification of Proposition 200 and the drug program's goals and performance-based measures. We will contact them again and update you on their response.

In October of 1995, Governor Rowland created a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Task Force on Substance Abuse to study and report how the state could better work to prevent drug and alcohol addiction and treat those addicted. The task force reported its findings and recommendations in early 1996. The task force's recommendations can be broadly categorized in four areas: prevention, early intervention, comprehensive system of services, and timely access to services.

The Law Revision Commission's study of Connecticut's drug policy also began in 1995. It resulted from a request by the co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee for a study on the ramifications of, and alternatives to, drug laws. Law Revision's recommendations, reported to the Judiciary Committee in early 1997, were for a coordination of criminal justice and public health strategies, and revised public health programs and criminal justice programs. A copy of these reports is attached.


Proposition 200, known as the Drug Medicalization, Prevention, and Control Act, requires mandatory court-supervised treatment and probation as an alternative to incarceration for non-violent drug users, provides expanded drug treatment programs, and allows doctors to prescribe controlled substances to patients suffering from serious illnesses.

Sentences For Violent Criminal Acts

Proposition 200 requires people convicted of committing violent crimes while under the influence of drugs to serve 100% of their sentences, without eligibility for parole.

Sentences For Drug Offenses-Probation

The initiative requires people convicted of personal possession or use of a controlled substance such as marijuana to be placed on probation. A person sentenced to probation does not serve any jail or prison time, is under a probation officer's supervision, and remains free as long as he abides by the conditions of probation. One of the conditions of probation is that the person participates in a drug treatment or education program.

Sentences For Drug Offenders—Parole

Under the initiative, people already serving time for personal possession or use of a controlled substance must be released on parole. A person so released is under the supervision of a parole officer and may have his parole revoked if he violates any of its conditions. The DOC is required to established parole procedures for such inmates and the Board of Executive Clemency is required to release them unless it determines that release would endanger the general public. People released on parole are required to participate in drug treatment or education.

Prescribing Controlled Substances

Proposition 200 allows medical doctors to prescribe a controlled substance for terminally or seriously ill patients to treat disease or to relieve pain and suffering. The doctor must (1) be able to document that scientific research supports the use of the controlled substance and (2) obtain a written opinion from a second doctor stating that the prescription is appropriate. A patient who receives, possesses, or uses controlled substances prescribed to him is not subject to criminal penalties.

Drug Treatment and Education Fund

Proposition 200 establishes the Drug Treatment and Education Fund within the administrative office of the Supreme Court. Money in the fund comes from a percentage of the luxury tax on alcohol, cigarettes, and other tobacco products. The court administrator must transfer 50% of these funds to the probation to cover the costs of placing people in drug education and treatment programs administered by qualified agencies or organizations that provide such programs for substance abuse. The remaining 50% must be transferred to the newly established Arizona Parent Commission on Drug Education and Prevention. APCDEP is responsible for funding programs that increase and enhance parental involvement in drug education and treatment.


Sentences For Violent Offenders

DOC does not keep statistics on the number of inmates serving 100% of their sentence, according to Bob Stalcup, DOC's assistant research manager. By law, all violent offenders in Arizona serve 85% of their sentences.


1,335 inmates were incarcerated for personal possession when Proposition 200 was adopted, according to Lynden Cain, administrator of DOC's Offender Information Services Bureau. Of the 1,335 inmates, DOC released 202 for reasons unrelated to Proposition 200. DOC determined that 993 were ineligible for release because they were also serving time for other felony offenses. DOC set up a release schedule for the remaining 140 inmates. Roughly one-half (67) were released in 1997. The other one-half will be released this year (67) and next year (6). The following chart shows the ages of the inmates eligible for release.

Table 1: Inmates Eligible For Parole By Age

Inmate Ages

Number Eligible For Release

18 and Under














55-and over


Medical Prescriptions

Proposition 200 allows doctors to prescribe Schedule I controlled substances, which include marijuana, LSD, heroin, and PCP. But a bill (HB 2518) signed by the governor in 1997 effectively removed the most controversial provisions of Proposition 200. Under the new law, doctors may prescribe Schedule I drugs only when they are authorized and rescheduled by the federal government. There is only anecdotal evidence that prescriptions have been written for controlled substances.