OAKLAND, CA — It was back in November 2014, when California voters passed Proposition 47 — a law that would change certain low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
Without spending on incarceration, the money would be invested into drug and mental health treatment and other services for the community.
Earlier this month, the Board of State and Community Corrections of California awarded $103-million to 23 cities and counties to do just that.
Advocates for Prop 47 are continuing to reach out to former felons, to ensure they are aware of the benefits of the law.
Fil-Am Stephanie Ong, the Director of Communications for Californians for Safety and Justice — or CSJ — says that Prop 47 is very important for her fellow kababayans.
“I think in the Filipino community we don’t talk about this stuff, and so there are many, many people in our community that might have a felony and are too ashamed to even admit that,” said Ong. “And they don’t understand there is a way to change their record and change their life.”
According to the California department of justice — in just one year, after Prop 47 passed felony arrests decreased by over $110,000 and felony convictions fell by $55,000.
Crime rates continue to fall in California.
Violent and property crime rates have been cut in half since 1990, and violent crimes have declined for 20 of the past 23 years.
CSJ attorney Hillary Blout says that since the implementation of Prop 47, there are more than 18,000 people incarcerated, and a quarter of a million Californians have applied to have their criminal records changed.
Blout says reclassification of these crimes has been known to help former offenders secure jobs, housing, and stability.
“We have in California for decades have a lack of prevention infrastructure. And what I mean by prevention is truancy, dropout prevention, mental health services, things that can help families.. I do think that the savings will go to the community, but I do think in the long run we’re going to need more.”
Former offenders are encouraged to visit myprop47.org, or to contact their local public defender to learn about the different remedies to remove their convictions.