Tags: | Proposition 47 | three-strikes law | criminals

California's Prop. 47 Could Free Thousands of Inmates

By    |   Monday, 06 Oct 2014 08:17 AM


Convictions for a minor property crime and drug possession for personal use would not automatically send repeat felons to prison for long terms under California's Proposition 47, which goes before voters on Nov. 4, The New York Times reported.

Californians already began moving away from the state's tough three-strikes law two years ago in cases where the third felony was minor. The current proposition would be retroactive and apply to thousands of inmates currently incarcerated, The Times reported.

California once had the toughest penalties for repeat felons. Now, with prisons overcrowded and new attitudes about counseling replacing punishment, particularly for nonviolent criminals and offenders who are addicts or suffer from mental health problems, the old approaches are being reappraised.

Sending fewer offenders to prison and jail will save the state and localities millions of dollars, some of which will be channeled into rehabilitative and remedial social programs to break the "cycle of crime," according to The Times.

Many in law enforcement warn that Proposition 47 is too "radical" and "dangerous" and will "endanger Californians."

"Virtually all of law enforcement is opposed," said Shelley Zimmerman, the police chief of San Diego. "It's virtually a get-out-of-jail-free card" for 10,000 felons, many with violent records.

Under Proposition 47, stealing a gun or carrying a date-rape drug could be treated as a misdemeanor, say opponents.

Supporters have spent heavily and raised some $4 million. Those favoring passage range from groups associated with George Soros, and Reed Hastings of Netflix and Sean Parker, formerly of Facebook, to Newt Gingrich, the former GOP House speaker.

One opinion survey found the measure has the support of 62 percent of voters, according to The Times.

The biggest single supportive donor is conservative Christian businessman B. Wayne Hughes, who contributed $1.255 million. His experience with bringing Christianity to prisoners has brought him to the conclusion that heavy sentences can make things worse.

The prison model doesn't work, Hughes said. "For the $62,000 cost of a year in prison, you can send three kids to college. But for me, it's not just about the money, it's about our fellow citizens who are hurting," he told The Times.


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Convictions for a minor property crime and drug possession for personal use would not automatically send repeat felons to prison for long terms under California's Proposition 47, which goes before voters on Nov. 4.
Proposition 47, three-strikes law, criminals
358
2014-17-06
Monday, 06 Oct 2014 08:17 AM
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