On a typical day in Judge Matt Anderson’s Newport Beach courtroom, the room is packed — but mostly with visitors. Drug courts attract academics, treatment professionals and journalists curious about its effectiveness.
But lately, the courts lack actual participants.
"The number of people being evaluated for the program is dropping," Anderson says.
Before Proposition 47, Orange County would see between 50 to 80 applications for drug court every month. In the roughly three months since the initiative passed, the county's drug courts received just 12 applications. In Los Angeles County, new admissions dropped 50 percent.
In fact, since the initiative went into effect, the number of people in drug courts in California has plummeted.
Drug courts have been heralded as a successful and humane option for those suffering from drug addiction who find themselves in trouble with the law. But when Prop. 47 made drug possession a misdemeanor, those fitting under the umbrella of drug court protection dwindled, as these courts typically serve only felony crimes.