California's problems with prison overcrowding have been widely reported
on and publicized. While steps implemented to reduce the state's prisons
populations have been marginally successful, a measure set to be voted
on this fall would likely have a much more significant and positive impact.
This November, California residents will vote on Proposition 47 a measure
that would reduce convictions and sentencing terms for certain nonviolent
crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. If Prop. 47 passes, the sentences
of thousands of individuals in the state would be impacted and reduced.
Felony convictions require that an individual be sentenced to serve at
least one year in prison, whereas individuals convicted of misdemeanors
typically serve far less or no time at all in jail and are instead forced
to pay fines and attend educational classes.
Those in favor of Prop. 47 argue that lengthy prison sentences do nothing
to help or rehabilitate individuals convicted of nonviolent property or
drug crimes. Additionally, proponents point to the expected cost-savings
benefits and revenue generated for much-needed state education and social programs.
Those opposed to the measure cite the release of what they contend are
dangerous criminals into California’s communities. Concerns have
also been raised by local law enforcement officials who argue local jails
will become overcrowded as a result of an increase in
A recent poll by the non-partisan group The Field Poll revealed that 57
percent of California voters plan to vote yes on the measure and only
24 said they plan to vote no. These results are encouraging as California
attempts to explore alternative and reduced sentencing measures as a means
to shrink prison populations and help individuals turn their lives around.
Source: League of Women Voters of California, "Proposition 47: Criminal Sentences.
Misdemeanor Penalties," 2014