Californians Plan to Vote Overwhelmingly for Criminal Justice Reform and Reducing Prison Sentences
The people of California are planning to vote overwhelmingly to change how several minor offenses are treated under the criminal justice system. According to a new PPIC poll, 62 percent of likely voters are planning on supporting Proposition 47 while only 25 percent plan to vote against the measure. The measure is supported by Democrats, Independents and Republicans.
The ballot measure is meant to help address prison overcrowding and reduce the massive amount of money the state spends on corrections as a result their “three strikes” law.
If approved the measure would reclassify many non-serious, nonviolent crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies. Importantly, it would also allow people who are currently in jail for one of these offense to have their case re-sentenced as a misdemeanor if they pass a through review to ensure they would not pose a risk to the public. The change would mainly effect crimes like personal drug use charges and those involved in stolen property worthless than $950.
According the California Legislative Analyst’s Office its adoption would save state and county criminal justice systems hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The measure would use these savings to fund dropout prevention, mental health services and substance abuse treatment.
Its strong polling is another indication that the “tough on crime” message of the 80’s and 90’s no longer holds the political strength it once did, now that the public has gotten to see how financially and personally damaging some of these overly aggressive policies have been.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy, which is on sale this week for just $0.99!