Tags: california | war | drugs | violations | felonies | misdemeanors

California's Prop 47 Deals Blow to War on Drugs

By    |   Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 06:59 PM

California dealt a major blow to the war on drugs in November when voters supported a ballot measure which downgrades nonviolent drug violations and other non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

California Proposition 47, also called the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, recategorized several "non-serious, nonviolent crimes" as misdemeanors as long as the person does not have any murder, rape, sexual assault or some gun crime convictions, Vox is reporting.

In addition to the personal use of most illegal drugs, the ballot measure, which passed by a 19-point margin on Nov. 4, affects shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing a bad check as long as the value is not more than $950.

Proposition 47 was endorsed and promoted by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne. It passed Election Day 59 percent to 40 percent.

As the most populous state in the country, Vox contends that the impact of Proposition 47 may be nationwide, prompting other states to consider downgrading softer, non-violent crimes as a way to reduce state prison populations.

Propostion 47 also works retroactively, opening up about 10,000 convicted felons for sentencing reductions.

The modern war on drugs began in the 1970s under President Richard Nixon and expanded in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, in which drugs were increasingly criminalized. Illegal drug possession was tied to mandatory prison sentences, of which California was a leader.

The downside is that there was a huge increase in California's prison population — growing more than 570 percent from 1980 to 2010. During that same time period, the population in the Golden Gate State grew more than 57 percent.

Proposition 47 also requires that a fund be created to finance schools, mental health treatment, truancy and dropout prevention as well as compensating victims.

The goal is that the change ends up more preventative, instead of just reactive.

However, according to Vox, the prison population won't be affected all that much, since most convicts are violent offenders.

Even though the war on drugs has had very little effect on the proliferation of drugs, Vox contends, the United States still spends $51 billion per year on the effort.

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California dealt a major blow to the war on drugs in November when voters supported a ballot measure which downgrades nonviolent drug violations and other non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
california, war, drugs, violations, felonies, misdemeanors
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2015-59-07
Wednesday, 07 Jan 2015 06:59 PM
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