Nearly three years after voters passed a state law intended to save money by keeping low-level offenders out of jail, $103 million in savings has been accumulated and will be distributed to two dozen California cities and counties for related programs.
But as local leaders prepare to spend their share of the money, some say Proposition 47 destroyed law and order. Others say in time, the law will help people.
Known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, Proposition 47 allows six nonviolent felonies — such as simple drug possession or petty theft under $950 — to be changed to misdemeanors on old criminal records. The goal was to save costs by jailing fewer people, but also generate money for school truancy prevention and dropout rate reduction, victim services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. It also allows some people to be resentenced for crimes they committed before the measure took effect.
More than 500,000 people in Los Angeles County are eligible to have felonies on their records reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47.
But some say the money won’t fix what the measure took away: The threat of incarceration that steers more drug offenders into treatment.
Too many people take advantage of the lack of accountability, said Robert Sass, vice president for the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
“Prop. 47 has not only sacrificed law-abiding residents, but it also has yet to deliver on its intended goal of changing the behavior of drug addicts and thieves,” Sass said. He and members of other groups, such as the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, say they see…
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