Advocates Challenge Law Enforcement on How Prop. 47 Savings Should Be Spent

Apr. 13, 2016 / By

California’s Proposition 47 stands to save the state millions of dollars due to reductions in jail and prison populations. The bulk of the savings are to be directed to mental health and substance abuse treatment, but some advocates don’t want law enforcement to be able to access funds for programs run in jails.

Prop. 47 passed in 2014, and reclassifies a small set of non-violent felonies as misdemeanors (crimes like simple drug possession, petty theft, and writing bad checks). It also applies retroactively, so people who are currently incarcerated can apply for resentencing.

Prop. 47’s implementation has helped to decrease California’s incarcerated population by more than 8,000 individuals, according to Governor Brown’s 2016-2017 budget proposal. A report by the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project estimates that the state savings due to reduced sentencing should be more than $90 million a year (though the state’s Department of Finance is estimating the first year’s savings at closer to $30 million, according to Brown’s proposed budget).

The savings are set to go to the Department of Education, victim compensation, and the largest chunk – 65 percent – to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs to decrease recidivism. Some groups are concerned about what kinds of treatment programs that funding will support.

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