LA County Creating Task Force to Assist Formerly Incarcerated

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously December 1 to form a task force to help non-violent ex-convicts update their records under Proposition 47 and to link them to jobs and services. Proposition 47 — dubbed by supporters as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act — was approved by 59.6 percent of California voters in 2014. It reduced some non-violent drug and property crimes — such as shoplifting, receiving stolen property and writing bad checks of less than $950 — from … [Read more...]

Thousands of Californians Get Relief under Prop. 47; State Saves Millions in Prison and Jail Costs

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 … [Read more...]

Don’t Blame Prop. 47 for Rise in Crime

Proposition 47 was enacted in November with 60 percent voter support. The vote was a testament to the compassion, resolve and recognition of Californians that our state’s incarceration system is broken and incapable of reforming itself. Prop. 47, like other measures that upend the status quo and wrest power away from institutional stakeholders and bring us back into the realm of consideration and grace, was intensely opposed by some in the law enforcement community. The sky will fall, murder … [Read more...]

A Step Toward Justice in the Release of 6,000 Prisoners

When a nation locks up as many people as indiscriminately as the United States does, even big numbers start to lose their meaning. Take 6,000. That’s how many federal prisoners are to be released over a four-day period beginning Oct. 30 by the Justice Department, following a decision last year by the United States Sentencing Commission to reduce sentencing guidelines for many nonviolent drug crimes. It is being called one of the largest discharges of inmates from federal prisons in American … [Read more...]

Is It Possible to Let More People Out of Prison, and Keep Crime Down?

President Obama has made incarceration reform a White House theme this week. On Monday, he commuted the sentences of 46 mostly nonviolent drug offenders; and on Tuesday, he spoke about reducing the prison population in a speech to the NAACP. "The United States is home to 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's prisoners," Obama said. "Think about that. Our incarceration rate is four times higher than China's." And Thursday he'll become the first sitting president … [Read more...]

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

Carlos and Roby are two ex-convicts with a simple mission: picking up inmates on the day they’re released from prison and guiding them through a changed world. wo men were sitting in a parked car, waiting to pick someone up. Carlos Cervantes was in the driver’s seat. He was 30, with glassy green eyes — quiet by nature, but with a loaded, restrained intensity about him. He had picked up Roby So at home in Los Angeles around 3 o’clock that morning, and they’d made it here, to this empty parking … [Read more...]

California’s Return-to-Prison Rate Falls for the Fourth Straight Year

Offenders who receive substance abuse treatment are dramatically less likely to return to prison The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation recently released the fifth in a series of annual reports analyzing the rate at which people released from state prison return to state custody. The new report, 2014 Outcome Evaluation Report, shows that the total three-year return-to-prison rate for all offenders released during fiscal year 2009-2010 is 54.3 percent, down from 61.0 percent … [Read more...]

California Agencies at Odds Over Counting New Crimes

alifornia's attorney general has released a statewide definition of recidivism — a term used for ex-cons who commit new crimes — that conflicts with one being developed by a corrections-related board overseen by Gov. Jerry Brown. The disagreement is important because it will help determine whether the governor's sweeping changes to the criminal justice system are considered a success. The emerging conflict also has the potential to create confusion among California's local law enforcement … [Read more...]

Inmates Released Early Under Three Strikes Revision Have Low Recidivism Rate

In less than 10 months, California has let 1,000 inmates out of prison early. Opponents said the releases would lead to an increase in crime, but a new report by the Stanford Three Strikes Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund shows that the released inmates' recidivism rate has been comparatively low. The report says the 1,000 prisoners released early so far have a recidivism rate of 2 percent -- as opposed to the usual 16 percent for all California inmates. They were … [Read more...]

How Prosecutors Can Lead on Public Safety

From the Capitol to the courtrooms, prosecutors can chart a new path on public safety in California by championing at both local and state levels one of the biggest ways we can transform our justice system in this generation--sentencing reform. Right now, the U.S. puts more people in prison and jails than does any other nation in the world. The costs associated with incarceration are staggering. California alone spends more than $9 billion per year on prisons. Despite all of these … [Read more...]