The New York Times, whaa??? The New York Times chipped in on Proposition 47 with some good sense. I hope as voters you'll remember to vote for something that can help rather than hinder law enforcement. This measure is supported by SOME veteran law enforcement professionals, though the greater number of them oppose it.
A number of major
California newspapers that have endorsed a Yes vote on Prop 47. Then,
this morning, something unexpected happened.
The New York Times
editorial board, which rarely weighs in on California ballot
initiatives, added its voice to the chorus urging California voters to
pass this common sense reform. Our reform movement is catching fire
across California and across the country. Prop 47 could be on track to
become a model for other states.
Read the full editorial below, then forward this email to everyone you know in California.
Editorial: California Leads on Justice Reform
Prop 47 Could Take the State a Step Further in Reducing Overcrowding
a long time, the conventional political wisdom was that no one ever
lost an election for being too tough on crime. That wisdom has been
turned on its head in recent years, as both politicians and the public
are realizing how much damage the lock-’em-up mind-set has caused.
recent polls asking about the most important problems facing the
country, crime ranks way at the bottom. That’s because crime is at its
lowest levels in decades, even while overstuffed prisons cripple state
A familiar retort is that crime is down precisely because the prisons are full, but that’s simply not true. Multiple studies show that crime has gone down faster in states that have reduced their prison populations.
encouraging example comes from California, the site of some the worst
excesses of the mass incarceration era, but also some of the more
innovative responses to it.
For five years, the state has been
under federal court order to reduce extreme overcrowding in its prisons.
In response, voters in 2012 overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure to
scale back the state’s notorious “three-strikes” law, leading to the
release, so far, of more than 1,900 prisoners who had been serving life
in prison — in some cases, for petty theft.
Dire warnings that
crime would go up as a result were unfounded. Over two years, the
recidivism rate of former three-strikes inmates is 3.4 percent, or less
than one-tenth of the state’s average. That’s, in large part, because of
a strong network of re-entry services.
The 2012 measure has
provided the model for an even bigger proposed release of prisoners that
California voters will consider on the ballot next week. Under
Proposition 47, many low-level drug and property offenses — like
shoplifting, writing bad checks or simple drug possession — would be
converted from felonies to misdemeanors.
That would cut an average
of about a year off the sentences of up to 10,000 inmates, potentially
saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually. To keep
people from returning to prison, or from going in the first place, the
savings would be invested in anti-truancy efforts and other programs
like mental health and drug-abuse treatment. Some would go to victims’
services, a perennially underfinanced part of the justice system.
officials, not surprisingly, oppose the measure, warning that crime
will go up. But they’ve already been proved wrong on three-strikes
Californians — who support the proposition by a
healthy margin, according to polls — have now seen for themselves that
they don’t have to choose between reducing prison populations and
protecting public safety.
It is very rare for lawmakers anywhere
to approve legislation to shorten sentences for people already in
prison; it is virtually unheard-of to do it by ballot measure.
California’s continuing experiment on sentencing can be a valuable
lesson to states around the country looking for smart and safe ways to
unravel America’s four-decade incarceration binge.
Think! Then vote. Hooray for Californians, leaders across the nation.