Thousands of Californians Get Relief under Prop. 47; State Saves Millions in Prison and Jail Costsp
In First Year, Prop 47 Implementation Hampered by Lackluster State and Local Officials
SACRAMENTO, CA – A year after Californians overwhelmingly voted to end harsh sentencing laws and reform the criminal justice system, Proposition 47: The Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act is being touted as a resounding success. With 60 percent of the vote, Californians declared that people should no longer be incarcerated for long periods of times for simple drug possession or petty property crimes. The vote also reaffirmed the public’s position that money saved from unjust incarceration costs should go towards funding treatment and supportive services, including for victims.
Since its passage on Nov. 4, 2014 judges have released and resentenced 13,000 people, and an estimated 160,000 Prop. 47 filings have been submitted to the courts. In one years’ time Prop. 47 statewide incarcerations cost savings are estimated to be $156 million. Long term, California could be looking at annual savings of $203 million in jail costs and $94.5 million in prison costs. This week Californians will celebrate the One Year Anniversary with continued high hopes for Prop. 47 dollars that will fund mental health and substance abuse treatment, victim services, and K-12 programs beginning in the summer of 2016.
“Since 2011, California has been under a federal court order to reduce its prison population but some of the previous attempts have failed to substantially reduce statewide incarceration levels, or to divert money into reentry services,” said Eunisses Hernandez, policy associate with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Prop 47 is making great strides towards both.”
However, implementation has been challenging and even thwarted in many parts of the state by the same law enforcement agencies responsible with enforcing it. This opposition and lack of action by public officials and law enforcement has left it to community based organizations, advocacy groups, and legal service providers to help people obtain the Prop 47 relief they are entitled to under the law.
“Prop 47 provides other states with a strong model for safely and successfully reducing unnecessary incarceration and removing the devastating consequences of a criminal record,” said Hernandez. “Approximately 300,000 people in LA County are eligible for Prop 47 relief. An urgency exists because the retroactive components of Prop 47 expire in November 2017.”
To help facilitate the Prop 47 reclassification process, the Drug Policy Alliance, in partnership with A New Way of Life, have created a step by step guide for Prop 47 Reclassification in LA County. DPA has also created a LA County Progress report that illustrates Prop 47 implementation in Los Angeles County. For more information go to www.MyProp47.org.