On November 04, 2008, the California voters will be voting on one of the most major changes in California criminal law in a very long time, known as “The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act” (“NORA”). It is a multi-faceted shakeup of California’s justice system. Tens of thousand of those who would previously be incarcerated, including youths under 18, would now be placed in treatment instead of lockup.
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office projects that NORA will reap $1 billion a year, or more, in savings to the California prison system. These savings are even more profound when measured against expected increases in the prison population and the annual CDCR budget.
Here are the key components of NORA:
- Prisons would be required to provide rehabilitation programs to all exiting inmates not less than 90 days before release.
- CDCR would be required to pay for rehabilitation programs for all parolees and for former parolees, who could request services for up to one year after discharge of parole.
- Prisoners whose crimes are nonviolent (with no prior strikes or no prior sex offenses requiring registration) would be able to earn time off their sentences with good behavior and by participating in rehabilitation programs.
This initiative, Proposition 5 would remove the power of the governor to appoint Parole Board members. Parole periods for qualified nonviolent offenders would be limited to between 6-12 months, compared with up to three years under current law, with earlier discharge upon completion of a rehabilitation program