Since Proposition 47 was approved by voters, the number of California inmates have been reduced by the thousands by downgrading certain drug and theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. However, authorities claimed that the new law allowed repeat offenders to continue to commit crimes without fear of consequences.
Law enforcement officials stated that, since Proposition 47 was passed, the crime rates in major California cities have risen. In some cases, some officers were reportedly making fewer drug-related arrests. Many drug offenders who are taken into custody have avoided enrolling in court-ordered drug treatment programs as they were not facing felony convictions and prison stays. This means that many individuals who may need treatment for a drug addiction may not be receiving it.
While Proposition 47 has been problematic, there has been some good news for many who were convicted on low-level drug crimes. Thousands of people who have older felony convictions may have the ability to have their records wiped, giving them a chance to qualify for certain benefits and even seek out new job opportunities. Further, the law was expected to save $100 million per year, funds that could be used towards drug treatment programs.
Although the consequences are less severe due to Proposition 47, those who are charged with drug possession or other drug crimes may still face serious consequences. There are strategies that a criminal defense attorney may use depending on the situation in order to avoid those consequences, including determining whether or not any evidence was legally seized or if the accused person's belongings or person were legally searched. Otherwise, alternative sentencing that includes treatment opportunities may be sought.