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Amidst the celebration of GOP’s winning streaks across the nation and DEM’s humbling defeats, a very important development has drowned in the sea of lack of attention. California Voters passed Proposition 47, leading the nation in implementing common sense law. Our colleague at Huffington Post, Matt Sledge ( @mgsledge ), reported the event this way, “California Voters Deal Blow to Prisons, Drug War”, as if that was a bad thing.
Proposition 47 makes non-violent illegal activities such as possession of drugs, thefts and the likes to be treated as misdemeanors instead of felonies. – I’ve been advocating for a while for an overhaul in the penal system to this regard – As such, thousands of inmates would be released and tens of thousands of others would no longer be subject to arrest. That is a good thing! The key is: NON-VIOLENT unlawful activities. It is indeed a very good thing for California; hopefully, the rest of the country will follow suit.
To put it in perspective, California currently spends an average of $60 per day for every prisoner, independent of the types of crimes. According to the article published in the Huffington Post by our colleague Matt Sledge, there will be 40,000 fewer felony convictions dispensed by the courts annually; that translates to roughly $876 million dollars ($60 per day per prisoner multiplied by 40,000 prisoners times 365 days a year) the State of California can use every year towards other more important matters such as education. That number does not even include expenses related to health issues of the prisoners and other incidentals.
So, yes, California voters are indeed very smart and leading the way in common sense laws. See what happens when “We The People” makes the decision instead of the politicians! The victory was not easy however; the opposition was financed by private prison management companies which benefit handsomely keeping the prisons filled at all times. Although aided by unscrupulous politicians who made cases for those companies, We The People (of California) have prevailed there, this time.
Ironically, one can rest assured that politicians will claim credit (in the not so distant future) for saving the State millions of dollars by applying common sense in the penal system and waste the money in other nonsensical matters.
Congratulations to Californians! One word of caution: watch out for those prison management companies raising the cost per day per prisoner to make up for the loss in the number of prisoners.
Follow Mike Ducheine on Twitter: @mducheiney