California Prop 47, the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, and it was approved in November of 2014. Now it’s often called The Safe Neighborhood and Schools At. It requires misdemeanor rather than felony charges for most “non-serious, nonviolent crimes,” except for specified exceptions. It also permits resentencing in many cases for anybody that’s serving a prison sentence for any of the crimes that the initiative reduced to misdemeanors. Defendants will still have to pay their fines, court costs and any restitution though.
Approval of Prop 47 reduced the following six felonies to misdemeanors and took them out of the scope of felony sentencing:
> Shoplifting of property with a value of less than $950.
> Grand theft of property with a value of less than $950.
> Receiving stolen property with a value of less than $950.
> Forgery involving less than $950.
> Writing bad checks for less than $950.
> Personal use of many illegal drugs.
People convicted of more serious crimes like murder, rape or sex offenses aren’t eligible for consideration of Prop 47 reclassification. It was estimated that as many as 1 million individuals might be eligible to amend old felony convictions and turn their lives around through Proposition 47. A court appearance isn’t even needed. A person seeking Prop 47 reclassification need only submit a completed form to the Clerk of Court in the county they were convicted in along with another copy to that county’s District Attorney. More than 3,700 prison inmates were released when their felony convictions were reduced down to misdemeanor convictions. Between $100 million to $200 million is expected to be saved in incarceration costs from 2016 to 2017.
Punishment for many crimes that fell under Prop 47 seemed excessive. Crimes will still be punished, but the punishment in the crimes contemplated by Prop 47 more appropriately fits the crimes. A felony drug conviction from 20 years ago following a person who hasn’t committed a crime since then can now turn invisible. Doors open for a better future, not only for that person but their family too.
It’s too early to determine whether Prop 47 is going to produce its intended effect. Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas have passed laws that are substantially similar. Crime rates in those states seem to have decreased significantly. Although California’s prison system’s population was predicted to decrease from Prop 47, there’s also room now to imprison more serious offenders who endanger public safety. Up to about 40,000 California possible felony convictions every year might be affected by Prop 47. If you think that you might be eligible for Prop 47 reclassification, you’ll want to get answers to any questions you might have.
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