On November 4, I encourage all of my clients and readers in California to go to the polls and vote YES on Proposition 47.
Proposition 47 reduces punishments for certain non-violent crimes and applies the resulting massive savings (due to reduced jail/prison sentences) to critical programs for our communities: school drop-out prevention , mental health and drug treatment programs, and victim services.
As a criminal defense attorney and a Los Angeles resident, I whole-heartedly welcome Proposition 47 as an important step towards a common sense, progressive, and comprehensive approach to reducing crime and strengthening our communities.
There are many website offering a detailed analysis of prop 47, but here is a very brief summary of what the initiative does:
Proposition 47 reduces the following property crimes to misdemeanors:
- Shoplifting, where the value of property stolen does not exceed $950
- Theft where the value of the stolen property does not exceed $950
- Receiving stolen property, where the value of the property does not exceed $950
- Forgery, where the value of forged check or instrument does not exceed $950
- Fraud, where the value of the fraudulent check or instrument does not exceed $950
In addition, if prop 47 passes, almost all simple drug possession charges would become misdemeanors. This means that possession of cocaine, heroin and meth for personal use would be charged as a misdemeanor and not a felony. This commonsense measure will dramatically reduce incarceration rates and save the state of California millions upon millions of dollars spent on jails and prisons annually.
“It costs the State of California over $47,000 to house a single inmate in state prison. I find it appalling that we spend more on a single inmate than most families make in a year in Los Angeles. Prop 47 helps reduce these costs and funnels money back into our communities helping assure that our children complete their education while addressing drug dependency and mental health issues that have historically led to increased crime rates. Prop 47 is a step in the right direction for our criminal justice system and for our communities. Vote YES on 47!”
– Martin Lijtmaer
The savings generated by prop 47 are estimated at $150-$250 Million. Assuming that California saves $200 Million from adopting prop 47, the following would be the payout back to our communities:
- $50 Million to our educational system focusing on dropout prevention programs.
- $20 Million to services for victims of crime.
- $130 Million to drug treatment and mental health services.
Money applied to these services will reduce crime and costs to our criminal justice system by addressing the needs of those most susceptible to crime: kids who drop out of school, individuals addicted to drugs, and those with mental disorders. By applying funds to these areas, we would be creating an infrastructure which will reduce crime in the long run, protect our communities, and also provide much needed support to crime victims.
For these reasons, LIJT LAW strongly endorses a YES vote on Proposition 47.