By Yara Del Rio-Dominguez |Staff Writer|
California residents have the option of voting on Proposition 47 to scale back several felonies to lower level misdemeanors in order to reduce the penalties for committed crimes.
Proposition 47 will modify the classification of non-serious and nonviolent, property, and drug crimes.
Only those who have been convicted of a non-serious, nonviolent crime will qualify for the changes implemented by Proposition 47, according to ballotpedia.org.
“I think this is an issue and people should not go to jail for committing little crimes,” said student Ashley Sandoval.
This comes to a surprise because California residents voted for the Three Strikes law (Proposition 36) back in 1994.
Proposition 36 states that if the offender was previously convicted of any felony two or more times, the law mandates the offender to a sentence of 25 years to life.
“I don’t think California voters knew what they were voting for way back in 1994 when they voted for this new law because it seems now many have fallen to be victims of the Three Strikes law and now want to change what classifies a crime as violent or non-violent,” said student Crystal Quintana.
After the passing of Proposition 36, the Associated Press reported that the law was implemented unequally throughout the counties of California, according to the Legislative Analysts Office of California.
Voters were unaware that Proposition 36 would count towards any third time offense, whether it was violent or not.
California is the only state out of the 28 states with Proposition 36 that has punished criminals for minor crimes.
“I’m in favor for Proposition 47 because California state prisons are full of inmates who committed petty crimes instead of more serious ones,” said Sandoval.
Proposition 47 will stop the misuse of prison space on the low-level nonviolent crimes.
“Criminals should do time for whichever law they broke, but I don’t believe they should do life in prison unless they committed a serious crime like rape or murder,” said student Jamie Spotville.
By moving felonies to misdemeanors, many inmates will be released and they will be able to serve their time in a different way.
California will save millions of dollars each year on taxes if Proposition 47 passes.
According to ballotpedia.org, the millions of dollars California would be saving could be directed into other programs, treatments, and services.
Under Proposition 47, about ten thousand inmates who were sentenced to life for nonviolent offenses will be eligible to appear before a judge for possible release or a re-sentencing.
Those who have received a strike for rape, murder or child molestation or were violent during their incarceration are not eligible for release, according to ballotpedia.org.
Even then, it will still be up to a judge to examine their criminal history, severity of the committed crime, and determine whether or not they are a risk to public safety or if or when they are released from prison.
Proposition 47 will appear on this year’s November ballot.