During the recent state elections, California residents voted to pass Proposition 47, a measure making crimes such as shoplifting and drug possession misdemeanors. The passing of the measure may mean early releases for as many as 10,000 convicts doing time in California prisons for such petty crimes.
In addition to the potential releases, California is looking at 40,000 fewer felony convictions in the coming year as well as remedy prison overcrowding, an issue the state has been struggling with. The state is also expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars on penitentiaries. The money saved will be distributed in the areas of education, mental health and addiction services.
California has a reputation for being tough on crime (i.e. the three strikes law), but the passing Proposition 47 should change that. Those focused on prison reform hope that California serves as a model for other states and lead to the end of mass incarceration. However, law enforcement officials have opposed the proposition, claiming it makes charging felony gun possession more complicated and is too lenient on people in possession of date rape drugs.
Nevertheless, if everything goes to plan, there will be plenty of happy freed convicts and families in California. Maybe this is the start of something major.