California ballot initiative seeks to reclassify felonies

9-25-2014 11-28-11 AMStop the Drug War reports that a ballot initiative that could help reduce California’s prison population as mandated by the federal courts is poised to pass.

Proposition 47, the smartly named Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, is sponsored by two prominent California law enforcement figures, former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and current San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and the campaign is being led by Californians for Safe Neighborhoods and Schools. It has lined up an impressive array of supporters, ranging from crime victims’ groups to the Catholic Church and racial and social justice organizations.

The initiative would attempt to address the state’s chronic over-incarceration problems by moving six low-level, nonviolent crimes from felony/wobblers to misdemeanors. A “wobbler” is an offense that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor. Among the included offenses is simple drug possession. (The others include shoplifting under $950, check forgery under $950, and petty theft or receipt of stolen property under $950.)

About 10,000 people are arrested on drug possession felonies each year in the state. Read more…

California was recently given two more years to fix its long-running prison overcrowding problem and will not have to comply with the caps on the number of people they can enslave until 2016. Federal judges also set strict guidelines on how the state must comply including limits on the number of prisoners that can be trafficked out of state. Private prison profiteers like the GEO Group opened new facilities in California and have taken some of the prisoners. The vast majority of California’s prisoners are enslaved over non-violent so-called drug crimes which is true all over the United States.

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