On November 4, 2014, Proposition 47 passed with 57.5% of the votes. This initiative reduces the punishment for certain drug possessions, theft, shopping lifting and forgeries, from a felony to a misdemeanor. The money saved will be used to support school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment and other treatments to keep offenders out of prison and jail.
As a result of this new measure, legislative analysts predict that about 40,000 California offenders each year will now draw misdemeanor convictions instead of felonies. Thousands of felons may be eligible for re-sentencing and released from prisons and jails. However, inmates must first prove that they are not a threat to the public in order to gain their freedom.
Some critics are concerned that the lesser sentence for drug offenders will mean there will be little incentive for offenders to participate in a drug treatment program. Usually, the threat of jail time would convince drug offenders to seek treatment. “We’re going to have to work a lot harder to convince people that it’s the best thing for you,” says Brown, L.A. County’s Chief Public Defender. Read the full story here.