One year ago, 60% of California voters passed Proposition 47, which changed six petty drug and theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors and mandated that savings from reduced incarceration be invested in communities. In passing Prop 47, voters sent a strong message that it’s time for California to shift gears from the expensive, one-size-fits-all approach of incarceration toward smarter approaches to crime prevention, specifically including treatment for underlying issues like addiction and mental illness.
Prop 47 is the law, but it is not yet the new normal. Although much has already been accomplished, one year is not a lot of time to adjust local criminal justice systems. In Prop 47’s second year, counties must increase connections to services demonstrated to reduce future offending, including substance use disorders and mental health needs.
There are resources. In January the governor released a draft budget that included an estimate of just $29.3 million in savings—compared to the more than $100 million that the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has calculated and what we know the law has actually saved the state.
Help us tell Sacramento not to hide the savings! This helpful toolkit highlights a variety of ways you can be an advocate for smart justice. Prop 47 savings belong in our communities and its important our lawmakers hear from you before budget is finalized in June! The toolkit contains valuable information on how to connect to services and clean up your record. It also outlines how you can get active on social media and in your local newspapers to voice your support for a more fair and just criminal justice system.