Where Did California’s Savings from Reducing Drug Penalties Go

Nearly 20 ex-convicts who had been drug addicts, gangbangers and prostitutes strained their eyes in an attempt to grasp the colorful, intricate diagram scribbled on the whiteboard. On a Sunday afternoon in Oakland, the group gathered with community organizers to discuss mass incarceration in a small, fluorescent-lit office tucked in a strip mall. Brandon Sturdivant, an advocate with the faith-based network Oakland Community Organizations, pointed at the board that described the impacts of … [Read more...]

How Much Does Prop 47 Really Cost?

California has long been seen as a harbinger on crime and punishment. During the tough-on-crime 1980s and ‘90s, California led the charge, passing “Three Strikes” and other harsh sentencing laws that became a model for other states to follow. In California, these laws led to prison crowding so extreme that the federal government put the whole system under receivership. The tide is beginning to turn on criminal justice. California is again setting the national tone, first by rolling back … [Read more...]

Why Aren’t Rehabilitation Programs Seeing Promised Windfall From Prop. 47?

In 2014 when California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 47 -- the ballot initiative calling for the release of non-violent drug offenders from state prisons -- they were told more than $100 million would be available for rehabilitation services to prevent recidivism. Officials in Sacramento estimated state savings from the thousands of newly released inmates would provide the largess for programs aimed at behavioral health, substance abuse, education and crime victims. But now as … [Read more...]

Crime Rates Not Affected by Realignment Releases

California drastically reduced its prison population, and crime didn't skyrocket the way critics thought it might ince 2011, California has taken radical steps to address its prison-overcrowding crisis by enacting a series of laws meant to reduce the state's prison population. California's plan, the centerpiece of which was the Public Safety Realignment Act in 2011, has been maligned by critics who believed the realignment would cause a spike in crime — or at least not deliver the promised … [Read more...]

Harnessing County Level Prop 47 Savings

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act, passed by California voters in November 2014, effectively reduced the status of several low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. While Prop 47 mandates that state budget savings, resulting from a drop in prison populations, be transferred to a fund that supports mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, school truancy, drop-out prevention, and victim services; there is no mandate that Prop 47 county … [Read more...]

Downsizing California’s Prisons Not Dangerous, Studies Show

After California’s prison population reached the crisis stage of overcrowding — with some prisons at 300 percent capacity — the state in 2011 began to parole thousands of inmates to their original counties. Within 15 months, more than 27,500 inmates had been ‘‘realigned’’ from state prisons to county jails or to parole in what was called ‘‘an act of mass forgiveness unprecedented in US history.’’ This led to the fear that suddenly returning thousands of convicts to the streets would cause a … [Read more...]

Jerry Brown Lowballing Prop 47 Savings?

California’s crime rate bottomed out last year and began to rise again, some law enforcement leaders and elected officials complained that they had been misled. All those programs they had been promised that were supposed to help addicts and former inmates reenter society safely, without committing new crimes, had failed to materialize. Consider, for example, this assertion by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in his State of the City speech in April: “The safety net that was supposed to come … [Read more...]

Getting a Finger on the Pulse with Rev. Troy Vaughn: Facing the Reentry Challenge with Clarity

The U.S. Dept of Justice has declared this week to be National Reentry Week. Justice Not Jails is marking the occasion with an interview with Rev. Troy Vaughn, interim executive director of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership (LARRP), who also serves as Senior Pastor of Inglewood Community Church. With over 375 reentry support service providers involved in the network's work, LARRP has a unique perspective on the struggle to bring Los Angeles County up to speed in delivering services in … [Read more...]

Senate Subcommittee Votes to Improve Prop. 47 Funding Process

On April 7th, the California Senate Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety, and the Judiciary (“Budget Sub. 5”) held a hearing to discuss important criminal justice policy. The hearing agenda put special focus on the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), the agency that will be responsible for distributing 65 percent of Prop. 47 state savings and $250 million in jail construction funding proposed in the Governor’s FY 2016-17 budget. On April 14, the BSCC Board approvedthe … [Read more...]

Advocates Challenge Law Enforcement on How Prop. 47 Savings Should Be Spent

California’s Proposition 47 stands to save the state millions of dollars due to reductions in jail and prison populations. The bulk of the savings are to be directed to mental health and substance abuse treatment, but some advocates don’t want law enforcement to be able to access funds for programs run in jails. Prop. 47 passed in 2014, and reclassifies a small set of non-violent felonies as misdemeanors (crimes like simple drug possession, petty theft, and writing bad checks). It also … [Read more...]