CACC – California Association of Collaborative Courts
California Proposition 47
August 30, 2015
Last November, voters in California overwhelmingly approved Proposition 47, which lets people with some nonviolent felonies petition a court to reduce their crimes to misdemeanors. And that has opened up new opportunities for many former offenders.
Take 21-year-old Sofala Mayfield, for instance. Mayfield’s life began to fall apart in his teens, after his grandmother suffered a stroke and his mother fell back into drug addiction.
The Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, is on the November 4, 2014, ballot in California as an initiated state statute. The initiative, if it is approved by the state’s voters, would reduce the classification of most “non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes” from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Specifically, the initiative would:
- Mandate misdemeanors instead of felonies for “non-serious, nonviolent crimes,” unless the defendant has prior convictions for murder, rape, certain sex offenses or certain gun crimes. A list of crimes that would be affected by the penalty reduction are listed below.
- Permit re-sentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses that the initiative reduces to misdemeanors. About 10,000 inmates would be eligible for resentencing, according to Lenore Anderson of Californians for Safety and Justice.
- Require a “thorough review” of criminal history and risk assessment of any individuals before re-sentencing to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public.
- Create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund. The fund would receive appropriations based on savings accrued by the state during the fiscal year, as compared to the previous fiscal year, due to the initiative’s implementation. Estimates range from $150 million to $250 million per year.
- Distribute funds from the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund as follows: 25 percent to the Department of Education, 10 percent to the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and 65 percent to the Board of State and Community Correction.
- The measure would require misdemeanor sentencing instead of felony for the following crimes:
- Shoplifting, where the value of property stolen does not exceed $950
- Grand theft, where the value of the stolen property does not exceed $950
- Receiving stolen property, where the value of the property does not exceed $950
- Forgery, where the value of forged check, bond or bill does not exceed $950
- Fraud, where the value of the fraudulent check, draft or order does not exceed $950
- Writing a bad check, where the value of the check does not exceed $950
- Personal use of most illegal drugs
The initiative is being pushed by George Gascón, San Francisco District Attorney, and William Lansdowne, former San Diego Police Chief.