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Jails, Prisons Less Crowded A Year After Prop. 47

Jails, Prisons Less Crowded A Year After Prop. 47
Jails, Prisons Less Crowded A Year After Prop. 47
Jails, Prisons Less Crowded A Year After Prop. 47 GUESTS:Milena Blake, staff attorney, Stanford Law School's Justice Advocacy Project Bill Lansdowne, former San Diego police chief David Greenberg, chief deputy district attorney, San Diego County

Our stop touring on meditation, last November California voters on Proposition 47. Opponents in law enforcement including San Diego CA, said the major would most likely increase crime. Now the first prop 47 has been released at the Stafford justice advocacy project. Joining me is Milena Blake. Milena welcome to the program. Good afternoon. Remind us about the kinds of crimes a Proposition 47. Prop 47 change six low-level felonies and wobbler's two misdemeanors and those where simple drug possession, shoplifting, petty theft, possession of Sir: property in etc. What areas of impacted your reports steady? We look at a couple different things. We looked at impact of population at this date present system as well as the county jail. We also looked at potential savings both statewide and County. Also as well as early data on impacts of county jails. What we're the key writings? The biggest take away is approximately 13,000 people have been released from state prison in County Jail. The vast majority are from the county jail population. That leads to significant savings at both state and county level. We estimate about hundred 50 million in-state savings this fiscal year and over $200 million County savings. Let me stop you there. Their work concerns that prop 47 would increase County Jail populations. You did not find that to be the case? No not at all. In fact until pop -- prop 47 past it was increasing. There was a sharp decrease immediately after the passage of prop 47. Since then we seen an overall reduction of about 9000 county jails -- statewide. Prior to the prop 47 many county jails where overcrowded and how they work managing their population they were letting people go and not serving their entire sentence. What did you find about [ Indiscernible ]. It's very low for this population. If less than 5% statewide. That is returned to state prison which is the only [ Indiscernible ] available. There's not consistent data collected for County jail. Milena you must know there are a lot of reports as it turns out and some are backed up by numbers about increased crime rates as a result of top 47. Did you do any research on that? We did look at that and ultimately we did include -- didn't included in the report. The Atty. General. does release crime rates for the previous year and about June or July. We will see crime rates for 2015 until the middle of 2016. I will say the anecdotal crime data that is coming out is consistent. -- Inconsistent. There's probably not a relationship with prop 47 but it's too early to have consistent statewide data. The savings gain from having house fewer inmates is supposed to go to a safe neighborhoods fund. What is the status of that? The Department of finance is supposed to calculate the state savings from the implementation of prop 47 by July 31 of 2016. We should see that calculation come out then. They then have a month to transfer the funds to the safe neighborhood funds which is distributed to grants for drug treatment, services and students through K-12 and victim services. Any estimate about how much money may go to that fund? The first year about $150 million in state savings and ongoing about 93 million annually. I've been speaking with Manella Blake. Thank you so much. Thank you. Joining me now William Downes -- Lansdowne. David Greenberg is jeopardy and he opposed prop 47. Thank you. Let me take your take on this report. Let me start with you David. I don't think it offers a whole lot. One thing she said it's too early to make conclusions. In terms of the report itself, I looked at unbiased reports. This particular report on the last page they talk about this group that they did the research they help write initiative and they actually litigate on behalf of prisoners in inmates seeking prop 47. Always looking for people that are going to be unbiased and don't have a dog in the fight so to speak. Let me go to chief Lansdowne what is your take on it? I think it's a first report that is based on statistics that they can look at that are being reported. I think it says a lot of good things about prop 47 and we will looking at lowering the number of people in the jail system. We've gotten very year ahead of time. We're looking at and concern -- in less than 5% is incredibly low. What is going on here is helping a lot of people and putting services where they need to be. There is a disconnect and I understand that in some law enforcement agencies who don't understand it and they're not using risk assessment and when I say risk assessment if not everybody needs to go to jail. Some do. There needs to be a policy and procedure in doing that. In deciding which person is most likely to reoffend in which one are most likely not to reoffend and doing what we need to do most. That is get services for people who are mentally ill or drug addicted and to make sure kids stay in school are critical to the long-term success of us. Where the country that incarcerates more people than anyone in the world. We need to change that and provide services. David many credit -- critics predicted many increases in crime. Is that a surprise? One of things I talked about you're always try to make sure that the community is going to be safe. That has happened in San Diego with the Sheriff's Department and other police agencies. I would say, and I can't speak for Los Angeles but if you look at the data the vast majority of people that will released from prison where Los Angeles residents. The data's suggests has a big spike in violent crime. All the people that will release from prison on these types of offenses would've been a nonviolent offense. The only reason they were in prison as they had a serious strike in the past. Otherwise it would not have been in prison. So I think while it's early to tell it's an interesting to take a look at and someone should take a look at it. All of the folks that will release from prison had prior strikes with respect to the citizen rate of 5% -- I think when you look at that that's people going back to prison. I think that's a barrage because first of all, if they commit new crimes that would've been felonies in the past they're not going to prison so that doesn't count and I don't know -- that the small number. I can tell you in San Diego That's what is going to ask you nest. As a prosecutable kind of results have you seen from prop 47 here in San Diego? In San Diego we have all of the people that have their sentence reduced and that's approximately 6700 people. Since the court made in order to reduce their crime to a misdemeanor, 22% of those individuals have had a new case filed against them so more than one out of five have had a new case filed against them and of those 65% have had a misdemeanor, 35% have had a felony of that group. We also what we see is people like a frequent flyer. One individual since a reduction has had 15 new misdemeanor cases against them. What we see is, people cycling through getting out and that's something that needs to be addressed on how you would handle these people because there are no services for these people. There is no extra money for the people saw all of the things the chief is talking about there is nothing there for these people. These people realize I just want to do my time, I'm not. Me go you to chief Lansdowne and as you've been hearing there's a sense of frustration even at the present police chief. A lot of the same people being ticketed and given probation and there's no way to compel people into drug counseling. We need to take a good look at what is being said. Nothing is being happen. That's not true at all. Someone commits a misdemeanor they can be booked into jail, it can be tried and sentenced up to a year in jail or they can be ticketed and release. Here's a great example of the risk constant -- concept of talking about which is being used in Sonoma County. As you look at what's going on, that demand program someone who is constantly coming in who is drug addicted or alcohol addicted and we sat down with the judges, we sat down with the police officers and we sat down with the district attorney and the city attorney and we came up with a plan. If it's a person out parting at night it's a misdemeanor be drunk and not capable of caring for yourself. The officer can take them to detox center which is no charging, you can write a citation or you can book him into jail. Usually people come into jail if the person is aggressive and angry but for the [ Indiscernible ] program and causing a lot of issue for public safety and the courts on the fourth arrest in a year or mandatorily booked into the jail and set up previously another system of handling the same thing, the judge can pretend them into custody and in lieu of that put them into a treatment program which is about 40% of the people long-term alcoholics on the street have been brought back with a new life in a new opportunity to work well. So it's how we deal with it. It's their choice not to book. And somehow someone gets arrested for five felonies and so the street I'm up curious how that works. Without work in San Diego? We have a program like that here. What I would say I would disagree a little bit with the chief. The judge cannot put them in any of those programs unless they agree to it so it's a maximum of 180 days custody and you have these people until they hit rock bottom and they say I don't want to do 90 days custody, I don't do 120. It's 90 day or join a program he would ask. Then they would say I just wanted to my time. I agree with the chief in terms how you can handle that. I think what you will have to do it with the court should do is say you know what you don't want help, where offering you help but you don't want it where going to give you more time and will take you out when you are ready when -- for help. It's an increase in cost to the county. One more point, and by doing that when the penalties are lower even see an increase in trials which we've seen. We seen a large increase in misdemeanor trials from the same time. As last year. A little bit a decrease in felonies because there aren't as many but a sharper increase in the misdemeanors. You have all those court costs and people cost and time that I don't believe the study that was dying is factoring in and with the savings are to the state or to the local government expect I believe this is a final question. There has been an increase in the number of homeless people in down town San Diego. Many people are pointing to prop 47 four the reason. Is that an unintended consequence of this bill? I don't see any real evidence to show that that's what's causing the number or increasing of homelessness. About a quarter of the population lives below the poverty level and they are struggling to get by every single day. What is good about that city of San Diego is that they provide services. Let me touch on Dave's response, I agree with him. The policy is 180 days. They can change that any time with a stroke of a pen. A judge can do that. They have the power to do it. We need to sit down and look at what works best for the city and for the state. The problem is that jails today have become the default system for the mentally ill and the addicted and we need to work on that and prop 47 will provide the money and is providing the money. David DC this increase in the homeless population downtown as a result or as it partly of prop 47? I believe using empirical data. I like to tell you that that is the case but you have to identify each of those individuals and take a look and say did you get a release as a result of prop 47 and without someone actually doing that it's anecdotal and it it's a guess. That's not what I base my decisions on. This is really the final question. Chief Lansdowne, there are many across the country who are looking of the results of prop 47. So far the jury is still out. It's pretty new. How long do you think it will take before it is working or not? I don't think the jury is out out at all. The just announced that 130 of the largest police chiefs, is a coalition of law enforcement officers to reduce crime. It's to change the laws to make the crime fit the punishment. They are on board. Thank you both. I've been speaking with former Bill Lansdowne former San Diego police and David Greensburg the chief deputy district attorney for San Diego country. Thank you.

A year after California voters approved a measure to make some nonviolent crimes misdemeanors, a study released Thursday finds prisons and jails in the state are less crowded.

Proposition 47 went into effect the day after the Nov. 4 election. It turned such crimes as drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors.

The study by Stanford Law's Justice Advocacy Project finds 4,454 state prisoners have been released under the new law, and it will keep an estimated 3,300 offenders out of prison every year, saving the state $93.4 million a year. Counties could save an estimated $203 million.


“The biggest takeaway is approximately 13,000 people have been released from state prisons and county jails,” Milena Blake, staff attorney for the Stanford Law School's Justice Advocacy Project, told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday. “That results in pretty significant savings.”

Before Proposition 47, county jails would release inmates before they fulfilled their sentences in order to create more space, said Blake, who co-authored the report.

“Because of the excess room in county jails, people are now able to serve their full sentence,” said Blake, who noted the recidivism rate is about 5 percent statewide.

Former San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, who backed Proposition 47, said lower inmate populations mean more money for other services.

“We’re the country that incarcerates more people than anyone in the world,” Lansdowne said. “We need to change that. Not everybody needs to go to jail.”


The state's notoriously crowded prisons are actually below the level ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in Plata v. Brown.

But critics says Proposition 47 is a get-out-of-jail-free card for repeat offenders, resulting in higher crime rates around the state.

David Greenberg, San Diego County chief deputy district attorney, who opposed the measure, said that many of the inmates released were in Los Angeles. That region’s crime rate has now risen.

Greenberg also said the authors of the report supported Proposition 47.

“This group that did the research helped write the initiative, and they actually litigate on behalf of inmates seeking Proposition 47 relief,” Greenberg said.

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