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Friday, December 20, 2013

MundiMuster! Upcoming California Ballot Measure To Reduce Most Nonviolent Crimes From Felonies to Misdemeanors

Marisa Lagos in SFGATE:
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón filed a ballot measure Thursday that would reduce most nonviolent crimes -- such as petty theft and drug possession -- from felonies to misdemeanors and use the money saved on prisons to fund crime prevention, trauma recovery services, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. Fresh off last year's victory for Proposition 36, which severely curbed the state's harsh "three strikes" law by exempting most nonviolent offenders, supporters believe voters will do what lawmakers and the governor have been unwilling to do... In addition to shifting possession of drugs for personal use to a misdemeanor, the proposal raises the monetary threshold for theft-related felonies from $450 to $950. Gascón said the increase "tightens up an area of law that hasn't been adjusted for inflation," for two decades. He and other supporters believe that voters are sick of "throwing money away" on incarcerating people who don't pose a risk of violence... The latest measure, which was filed with the state Thursday and will need about 500,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot... The $150 million to $250 million in estimated annual savings would be earmarked for programs that lawmakers could not change: The bulk, 65 percent, would be used for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs aimed at reducing recidivism. Another 25 percent would go to crime prevention and support programs in K-12 schools. The final 10 percent would go toward trauma recovery services for crime victims. Barry Krisberg, a senior fellow and lecturer at UC Berkeley Law School who helped advise the measures' authors... said the ballot measure, if enacted, would result in "significant declines in the number of people in state prison," which appears to be what voters want. He said he expects to see more proposals like this around the nation. "There appears to be tremendous support for the ideas in this proposal," said Krisberg. "The question is, can they get it on the ballot? (Collecting signatures) takes a lot of money. But if it was on the ballot, based on the polling data I have seen, it would pass overwhelmingly."
I haven't found a website facilitating signature collection or other education and organizing for this ballot measure yet -- clearly this is in the early stages. I'll post a link when I do, and if you are as interested in this as I am you might want to check in at the San Francisco Attorney General's Official Website occasionally for the latest news on this, as will I.

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