Sentencing Reform for Drug Possession in California: Impacts on Hospital Visits and Racial and Geographic Disparities in Criminal Justice Involvement

DEB Seminar
MH-1401/1402

Alyssa Mooney. MPH, PhD (c) John Hopkins University (MPH, Social and Behavioral Sciences); University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Psychology)

Title: Sentencing Reform for Drug Possession in California:  Impacts on Hospital Visits and Racial and Geographic Disparities in Criminal Justice Involvement

Summary:  Changes in public opinion, overcrowded prisons, and strained budgets have spurred recent criminal justice reforms promoting a shift from a punitive to a public health approach to substance use disorders.  Three decades of punitive drug policies had disparate impacts across race and geography, though little is known about how the reversal of this trend will impact the inequalities it produced.  A significant reform in California, Proposition 47, reduced incarceration by reclassifying drug possession offenses to misdemeanors, and invested state savings in treatment.  This dissertation talk will focus on the effects of this reform on racial and geopgraphic disparities in criminal justice involvement for drug offenses, and whether there were unintended consequences for drug-related hospital visits.