California voters have passed Proposition 47, which reclassifies some felony crimes as misdemeanors. The change took effect immediately and is already having an impact.
There are no official statewide numbers yet on how many people will be released from jail or prison because of Prop 47. But counties throughout California report they have already let people go.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson is president of the California State Sheriff’s Association. He says his county has already released 60 jail inmates. And he says his deputies are also arresting fewer people.
"Prior to Prop 47 if someone was found in possession of a dangerous controlled substance like methamphetamine, they went to jail on that felony charge," he says. “Now, post-Prop 47, they’re being cited out with a court date to appear."
The law affects people facing charges and those already convicted. And Terry Thornton with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says the situation can be complex.
"It is retroactive, which means a person may have already gone to prison, was already supervised after their release, either by the state or the county, was discharged, hopefully they’re living their life, a good life and a law abiding life, they can also go back to court and petition to have these certain felonies reduced to misdemeanors," she says.
Thornton says about 4,700 current state prison inmates are eligible to petition for resentencing under the law.