California measure calls for sending fewer criminals to prison
October 6, 2014
California voters will decide in next month’s election whether to reclassify a host of felony crimes relating to drugs and theft as misdemeanors, thus reducing the amount of convicts sentenced to prison. [New York Times]
Proposition 47 calls for redefining the criminal code to categorize the use of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, as misdemeanors. Thefts, forgeries and other property crimes involving less than $950 would also become misdemeanors.
If a majority of voters approves the measure, current felons could undergo re-sentencing.
The proposal is expected to save the state government a few hundred million dollars per year. The savings would be earmarked for mental health and substance abuse treatment, counseling of potential school dropouts and victim services.
A September poll by the Public Policy Institute of California indicated that 62 percent of voters support the initiative.
But, most law enforcement officials, including the majority of California district attorneys and the police chiefs’ association, oppose the measure.
“Virtually all of law enforcement is opposed,” said San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. “It’s virtually a get-out-of-jail free card for 10,000, many with violent histories.”