Hours after the last California ballot returns were counted, the phone lines of defense attorneys across the state began to light up with calls from inmates, reports U-T San Diego. With the passage of Proposition 47, simple drug possession and property crimes valued under $950 are now misdemeanors. Punishment means, at the worst, up to a year in jail, no longer prison. It also means up to 10,000 inmates serving time for those crimes can begin to apply for shortened sentences, a process many were eager to get started.
“This morning at 8 a.m., we took 10 attorneys and put them on the phones,” said Randy Mize of the San Diego Public Defender's Office. “They were taking 200 calls an hour from inmates in county jail. These are people asking us to file petitions on their behalf.” The scramble to put the new law into practice was starting to touch all corners of the criminal justice system, from the City Attorney's Office, which must handle 3,000 more cases a year, to police officers who will have new protocols to follow for certain arrests. (This report used an incorrect name yesterday for Proposition 47. The correct name is The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.)