Proposition 57 on the November ballot would allow nonviolent felons to be paroled early by earning sentence credits for good behavior, taking educational classes and participating in rehabilitation programs.
The state Legislative Analyst says if the proposition passes, the state would likely save money on prison costs while increasing costs to counties because of more work for their probation departments, just as the previous Proposition 47 – passed in 2014 – has done. If you’ve forgotten, Proposition 47 moved many state inmates into county jails as a way of reducing the state prison population.
The prison population in California has ballooned, and finding reasonable and safe ways to reduce that population is critical. We think Proposition 57 is on the right track by giving convicts incentive to participate in rehabilitation programs and to take classes. However, we do not think that Prop. 57 is the right choice at this time.
What’s wrong with it? You can read some of the objections in the voters’ guide, but here are the ones that most concern us.
First, it amends the state constitution. That means the state Legislature could not change it if it turns out there are problems with it.
Second, it shifts costs from the state to the county but doesn’t guarantee the state will offset those increased costs. Counties are still reeling from the additional costs from 2014’s Proposition 47 and we would like to see if those expenses continue.
We would also like to wait a few more years to see how Prop. 47 is affecting local crime rates. Police have blamed it for an increase in property crimes such as burglary, but it isn’t clear if that is a trend that would continue.
Ask almost any district attorney or law enforcement official in the state and they will tell you that Proposition 57 is a bad idea. We agree.