Reducing crime penalties

By Marlene Rivas, Staff Writer

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Proposition 47 may allow for reduced penalties for those who have committed and been sentenced for misdemeanor crimes, if approved by voters in the upcoming Nov. 4 state elections.

If this proposition were to receive sufficient votes in its favor, then those serving sentences for non-serious and nonviolent property and drug related felonious crimes would be eligible for resentencing, and a reduction of such crimes to that of a misdemeanor.

If a convicted felon were to have had previous convictions of harsher such felonies, then this law would not alter his or her current sentence.

These crimes include murder, rape, some sex offenses and gun related crimes.

According to Ballotpedia.com, about 10,000 California inmates would be eligible for resentencing in accordance with the voter approval of this new proposition.

Crimes applicable to the resentencing that Proposition 47 could allow include shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud and writing a bad check.

The monetary value of those crimes must not have surpassed $950.

Usage of illegal drugs would also be a crime in the radar for Proposition 47.

The state’s savings to come from criminals shortened sentences has an estimated value, per year, of $150 million to $250 million.

Those savings allegedly would be used for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund.
The money would be distributed among the Department of Education (25 percent), the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (10 percent), and the Board of State and Community Correction (65 percent), according to Ballotpedia.com. Supporters include Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), Sen. Loni Hancock (D), Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D) and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich (R).

Gingrich has been quoted stating that there is a need for prison for dangerous criminals, and there should be “harsh punishments” for people convicted of violent crime.

He said that California has been “overusing incarceration” and that the prison system is for people who strike fear into the public — California has been filling it with people society is just “mad at.”

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