The California Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act has officially qualified for the general election ballot, and will be put to a vote this November as Proposition 47. The measure, in addition to other criminal justice changes, would remove felony charges for the personal possession of illegal substances, reducing the sentence to a misdemeanor. The proposal would also defelonize other nonviolent crimes such as petty theft and check fraud.
The initiative, backed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and San Diego Police Chief William Landsdowne, wouldn’t apply to charges involving the manufacturing or distribution of illegal substances, and for charges placed on someone with a past violent conviction. All other drug possession charges would be defelonized.
If approved, the proposal is expected to save the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually, with the funding going to the state’s Department of Education, to trauma recovery services for crime victims and to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.