Proposition 47's Effect on CA Criminal Justice System

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California Proposition 47 was passed by state voters in November. Known as the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, Prop 47 reduces a number of theft crimes and the personal use of most illegal drugs from felonies to misdemeanors. With the passing of Prop 47, California became the first state to de-felonize drug use.

Proposition 47 is considered a landmark piece of legislation that rethinks the War on Drugs, focuses on rehabilitation rather than strict punishment, and aims to save on jail and prison spending. In the past several months since Prop 47 went into effect, California's criminal justice system is seeing dramatic changes, some of which was unexpected.

The following statistics come from data collected from November (when Prop 47 was passed) to January 31 and a comparison to data collected from the same time last year.

  • Drug arrests in Los Angeles city have dropped by 30%
  • Property crimes in Los Angeles County have risen by roughly 10% (7% in LA city)
  • Requests for resentencing and early release have risen

Prop 47 can have a profound effect on the California criminal justice system and communities across the state. Already, jails throughout the state have reduced prisoner populations. However, not all of the effects have been as expected, and not everyone agrees Prop 47 is working as it should.

While some are questioning the results seen thus far, other experts are urging caution not to jump to conclusions and to give the criminal justice system some time to catch up with the new laws. Experts also agree that lawmakers and law enforcement can use newly freed resources and time to find more effective means of preventing and eliminating crimes.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our legal team is available to assist individuals who wish to learn more about Prop 47 - either to reduce convictions and sentences or to fight current charges. If you or someone you love would like to discuss your case during a FREE case review, contact us today.

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