For decades, Los Angeles County jail inmates divided their sentences by five, 10 or 20 to calculate the time they would actually spend behind bars. Because of overcrowding, they left after completing as little as 5 percent of their sentences, says the Los Angeles Times. As Proposition 47 begins to reshape the California criminal justice system, they are serving much more of their time.
The new law, passed by voters Nov. 4, reduced drug possession and other minor crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. The county jail population plummeted and sheriff’s officials began increasing the time served for the remaining inmates to 90 percent or more. Most of the affected inmates will end up serving only half of that, under to automatic credits prescribed by state law, but the change is still profound. Because of Proposition 47, others who would have landed in jail are not being arrested as street cops take a pass because of the low stakes. At the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, bookings are down by 23 percent and narcotics-related arrests are down 30 percent.