Is Proposition 47 to Blame for California’s 2015 Increase in Urban Crime?

New report shows that no conclusions can be drawn about Prop. 47’s effect on crime at this time. A new research report examines the effects of Proposition 47 on crime in California. By comparing recently released FBI crime data for California’s 68 largest cities to prison discharges/releases as a result of Prop. 47 and overall county jail population decreases, the report finds it is too early to conclusively determine whether or not Prop. 47 has had an impact on crime. Prop. 47, passed … [Read more...]

Where’s My Missing Prop 47 Savings?

On Nov. 4, 2014, California voters, by a 60-40 majority, approved Proposition 47, which changed six low-level drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It also required that the resulting prison cost savings be reallocated to local mental health and drug treatment programs as well as truancy and dropout prevention and victim services. I strongly supported Prop. 47 – investing $1.3 million into its passage. Here’s why: California over the past 30 years has enacted extreme … [Read more...]

Prop 47: An Unprecedented Experiment in Mass Forgiveness

Jose Gonzalez remembers feeling disoriented as he stepped out of Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and into the vastness of the Colorado Desert. A corrections van was waiting to shuttle him to freedom. The driver rolled down the passenger window and told Gonzalez to get in. The door handle felt foreign in his fingers, and he struggled to open it. “I’d never been able to open my own door in 20 years,” he said. Gonzalez had just served a long stint on a life sentence for his role in a grisly … [Read more...]

Analyst Estimates $100 Million More in Prop. 47 Savings than Brown

The Legislature’s non-partisan fiscal analyst believes Gov. Jerry Brown is underestimating the amount of savings from Proposition 47, the controversial ballot initiative that reduced some nonviolent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The initiative required the savings be used for mental health, drug treatment, truancy and victim services. In a report issued Friday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the first deposit should be about $100 million more than … [Read more...]

California Prison Spending Out of Whack

Where is the de-incarceration dividend? With crime up, Californians have a right to ask why the savings from prison realignment haven't materialized and why an expected $100 million to $200 million in Proposition 47 savings has been budgeted by Gov. Jerry Brown at less than $30 million. After all, the state's prison population has plunged, first from realignment — the 2011 shift in responsibility for many felons from the state to counties — then from inmate releases to meet court-imposed … [Read more...]

Proposition 47: Are Health and Equity Included in News Coverage?

Proposition 47 was an initiative passed by California voters in 2014 that recategorized a number of petty crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. The savings from the reduced prison sentences that resulted from this measure are earmarked for mental health and substance abuse treatment, education retention programs, and victim services. This seminal piece of legislation has profound implications for health and equity in the state — but is that reflected in the news? How Proposition 47 is … [Read more...]

Prop 47 Savings Should Be Part of Broader Investment in Communities

A new year means ramping up work on a new state budget. And this year’s proposed budget is an opportunity for lawmakers to use the state’s improving finances as a foundation for boosting investment in public services that are crucial to strong communities and widely shared economic growth. Of course, a good state budget is one that works to promote long-term fiscal stability. But we also must ensure that California is making severely needed investments in reducing poverty and promoting … [Read more...]

California Prison Reforms Have Reduced Inmate Numbers, Not Costs

In 2012, under court order to reduce prison overcrowding, California announced an ambitious criminal justice reform plan that promised not only to meet the court mandate but also to improve criminal sentencing and “save billions of dollars.” Now, three years after implementing the changes, California has reduced its prison population by some 30,000 inmates, and the state is in the vanguard of a prison reform movement spreading across the country, with support from both the right and the … [Read more...]

Governor Reneges on Promise for Sustainable Prison Population Reduction, Funds New Jail Construction

Despite years of promises to find a long-term solution to California’s prison crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2016-17 budget projects future prison population growth, extends the use of in-state and out-of-state contract beds, spends $250 million on new jail expansion, refurbishes the Norco prison that has been slated for closure for years, and lacks any reforms that would meaningfully reduce the prison population. Rather than investing in vital community-based programs, the budget focuses on … [Read more...]

Prop 47 Savings Belong to Communities

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget released today includes the current Department of Finance estimate of savings resulting from Proposition 47. This first estimate puts FY 2015-16 savings at just $29.3 million, far below all previous estimates and despite a clearly established reduction in state incarceration of people for low-level offenses in 2015 over previous years. The estimate announced today reflects a largely political choice to calculate savings in a way that keeps taxpayer … [Read more...]