Prop. 47 Results in Lower Recidivism for State

By Tommy Bryant
Journalism Guild Writer

The effects of Prop. 47, now at the one-year anniversary point, are still being analyzed. Statistics are slowly trickling in about the effects Prop. 47 is having on jail and prison systems.

Remarkably, Prop. 47 recidivism has been very low. “A prison return rate below 5 percent indicates that any increase in crime over the past year should not be attributed to inmates freed from prison under Proposition 47,” stated the Stanford Justice Advocacy Project using data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as of October, 2015.

Prop. 47 works hand in hand with the three-judge panel ruling that the prison populations be no more than 137.5 percent of capacity by Feb. 2016. It appears “the state will incarcerate an estimated 3,300 fewer prisoners every year,” reports CDCR.

“Approximately 8 percent of prisoners released under Prop. 47 have been women,” according to the Stanford justice Advocacy Project. There are 5,268 women housed in facilities made for 3,800, making them among the most overcrowded state prisons at 138 percent. Women prisoners make up 4 percent of the state’s total.

A district attorney argued that Prop. 47 did not apply to plea bargains, and the Contra Costa County Superior Court agreed with the decision. “In April, the First District Court of Appeals reversed the Superior Court decision.” All inmates eligible under Prop. 47 have three years to submit petitions.

With fewer long-term prison inmates, the estimate for potential state savings is around $93.4 million a year. “The Department of Finance must complete its calculations by June 30, 2016, although the exact method for calculating savings has not yet been determined,” reports the Department of Corrections.

Prop. 47 increased early releases in the beginning but has tapered off. “Early releases from county jails due to overcrowding are down approximately 35 percent statewide,” according to the California Board of State Community Corrections.

The AB 109 Public Safety Realignment Act was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to reduce prison overcrowding. Inmates began serving more time in county jails, which in turn overcrowded the jailing systems. “Over 20 county jail systems are under court orders limiting the number of inmates who may be housed at any given facility,” states the California Board of State Community Corrections.

As of Sept. 30, 2015, “The prison population remains over 30 percent above capacity” reports CDCR.

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