Voters on Tuesday throughout California supported a change that may lead to the early release of thousands of non-violent criminals and keep many people from serving long jail sentences. The new law may also allow the state to re-purpose hundreds of millions of dollars currently being used to house non-violent petty criminals. According to The Los Angeles Times, Proposition 47 passed 58.5% to 41.5%. Polls over the last several months were proven correct and the public enthusiastically supported the measure.
For people who have violent crimes on their records or who are registered sex offenders, the new law will have no impact. But for those who qualify, proposition 47 reclassifies many property crimes that involve items valued at less than $950. Many drug possession crimes also have been reclassified. Possession of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, which were once considered felonies, will now be classified as misdemeanors. This means the maximum sentence that could be imposed would be one year in jail. Prior to Proposition 47, a three year imprisonment was a real possibility. The new law is expected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars in incarceration costs and allow more money to be funneled into the Department of Education and other public services including victims' rights initiatives.