California Voters Pass Controversial Criminal Justice Reform Proposition

California voters passed Proposition 57 this past Tuesday. Presented as a means for criminal justice reform, Proposition 57 allows non-violent convicts parole consideration once they have completed their base sentence.

The new law creates a system of good behavior credits that can be earned by participating in rehabilitation and educational programs. The measure aimed to cut state spending in prisons and reduce the prison population while keeping dangerous felons rightfully behind bars.

The controversial aspect of the proposition lies in its definition of violent crimes. Under this new law, criminals convicted of human trafficking, hate crimes resulting in bodily injury, domestic violence, and, under certain circumstances, rape would be considered “non-violent” criminals, making them eligible for shorter sentences.

Opponents of the new law believe that by legally classifying violent crimes that cause bodily harm as “non-violent” Proposition 57 will make it easier for dangerous individuals to get out of prison and back on the streets. Proponents for Proposition 57 emphasize that these prisoners will have to go through an appeals process before a panel of judges before being released.

Proposition 57 passed with about 64% of the vote. Estimates suggest that a quarter of California inmates could shorten their sentences under this new law.

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