A recent decision by a California appellate court (First Appellate District, Division One) says that people convicted of bringing drugs into jail or prison may not enter a drug treatment program through Proposition 36. As background, Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, was passed by California voters with the purpose of giving people convicted of drug possession the opportunity to go through a drug treatment program rather than spend time in jail. The program works this way. After a defendant enters a guilty plea, the judge enters a judgment, which means that a conviction goes on the defendant's criminal record. But instead of going to jail or prison, the convicted person begins drug treatment. If he successfully completes the program, the drug possession charges are dismissed. (The rules for participation in Prop 36 treatment programs are complex. Click here for a more detailed discussion.) In People v. Parodi, the defendant pled no contest to bringing a controlled substance into the jail. The terms of the negotiated plea were that Parodi would enter a Prop 36 treatment program or have to serve 60 days in jail, depending on whether the trial court determined that the crime of bringing a controlled substance into a jail was covered by Prop 36. When the trial court subsequently ruled that Parodi was not eligible for Prop 36, he appealed the decision. The appellate court upheld the trial court's interpretation based on its reading of the language and intent of Penal Code 1210.1, the statute created by Prop 36. The appellate court ruled that Parodi did not qualify for the drug treatment program and the possibility of dismissal of his conviction because Prop 36 and Penal Code 1210.1 focus on drug possession, while Parodi pled no contest to Penal Code 4573, which focuses narrowly on the act of bringing drugs into jail or prison. People v. Parodi
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