Senior Policy Analyst
Program Director, State Policy Fellowship Program
California voters approved Tuesday a measure to not only reduce the state prison population but also reinvest the savings in specific, high-priority programs. As our recent report on criminal justice reform and education investments explains, Proposition 47 includes several features that make it a model reform.
State policies have been the major drivers of rising prison populations in recent decades, so these changes will reduce prison overcrowding and lower incarceration rates. The California Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that Proposition 47 would likely cut the state’s prison population by several thousand inmates while generating corrections savings in the low hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Even better, research indicates that states can significantly reduce their prison populations without harming public safety.
Just as important, Proposition 47 ensures that the savings get reinvested in specific areas of the budget. While most states have enacted criminal justice reforms, few have directed the savings to investments in human capital (such as education) or low-income neighborhoods.