California measure calls for sending fewer criminals to prison

October 6, 2014

prisonersCalifornia 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.”


Our for profit prison industry and all the government agencies that benefit from stricter laws have helped get laws passed that lock up more than 2 million people, more than China with a population over 4X greater. Our laws create a booming industry for private corporations, lawyers, police, and judges.

The laws take resources that could be better spent on other government services that people actually get use out of, treatment programs, or left in the hands of taxpayers. Felony records make it much harder for convicts to reintegrate into society creating a revolving system that perpetually consumes limited resources.

By taking away opportunity for criminals to become productive, real victims often have little chance of receiving restitution.

I think this is a good first step. If it turns out to be a swing too far, I wouldn’t have a problem with changing charges and sentencing guidelines in the future for the repeat offenders where there is an actual victim (theft, forgery, other property crimes). More focus should be on making the victims of those crimes whole through restitution.


Another fine example of Californis circling the drain.


We should release everyone who had a bad childhood, because it’s just not their fault they turned out bad.


Residential crime in CA is on the uptick. This will not help to slow that down. Vote smart.