Proposition 47 is now the law of the land. Voters saying “yes” this week to reducing the penalties for several non-violent crimes.
Theft and drug offenses are no longer be felonies, meaning fewer criminals going to over-crowded prisons and jails, and thousands of others will be getting out early.
That’s why law enforcement up and down the state were against the proposition.
In the Valley, it’s getting mixed reaction.
“I’m glad it passed for the not so violent ones,” said Yucca Valley resident Genie Worley.
Felonies like stealing a car, shoplifting, writing a bad check and drug possession aren’t felonies anymore in California, on Election Day, these crimes became misdemeanors.
“For example a theft of a gun used to always be a felony just because it’s a fire arm, now that’s going to be a misdemeanor, so that is going be a dramatic affect on trying to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals,” said Riverside County Sheriff Capt. Kevin Vest.
“With the length of time they are giving people with incarceration now they can back it off to what it should have originally been and hopefully spend some of that money of rehab and get people off of drugs,” said Riverside resident Douglas Thurber.
Prop 47 also means more inmates could be released. Right now there are about 10,000 inmates currently serving time for a felony that could qualify to be reduced down to a misdemeanor under this new law.
“These people need help are going to be able to get it rather than being punished and their families suffering when they go to state prison,” said criminal defense attorney Ruben Sanchez.
The Public Defender’s office in Indio tells us the phones continue to ring off the hook with calls from current inmates wanting their sentences reduced.
“I do have current clients now that were looking at state prison time because possession of heroin or meth now they are looking at getting those charges reduced from felonies to misdemeanors and they will be able to get the help that they need,” said Sanchez.
Prop 47 could save hundreds of millions of dollars in state prison costs by reducing the inmate population, that money ear marked for mental health and drug abuse treatment services as well as other jail prevention programs.
However, major law enforcement groups believe it will make our neighborhoods more dangerous.
“There is going to be more criminals out on the street,” said Capt. Vest.