Prop 47 Pros and Cons for California

By Stefani Camille
November 12, 2014

prop47_jailProposition 47 passed last week with 59 percent of the vote. Some people may still be wondering what is Prop 47? The measure works to reclassify multiple sections of the penal code to reduce prisons.

It will change six low-level offenses (e.g., simple drug possession and petty theft) from felonies to misdemeanors and is projected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in prison costs. Those savings would then be allocated to mental health and drug treatment, K-12 programs and victim services.

There are some who seem to find a problem in the measure. One particular is San Bernadino County, which uses inmates as fire fighters. At least 500 low risk inmates serve as fire fighters according to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
With the passing of Prop 47, the change will result in a cut of inmates serving as an inmate crew assisting California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to one third or more.

Inmates must be low-level offenders serving a minimum of 15 to 18 months with no history of gang-related, sexual or violent crimes in order to be part of the program. The program also has aided in getting jobs with the U.S. Forestry Service once inmates have served their time.

The use of inmate crew saves California at least $80 million a year. Yet, the law will reduce incarceration and increase investments in crime prevention. Which serves the state of California more efficiently?

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