Three advocacy groups are asking California Gov. Jerry Brown to include sentencing reforms in the revised state budget proposal he will unveil this month, says California Watch. The American Civil Liberties Union, Drug Policy Alliance, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights contend that reducing charges for simple drug possession and nonviolent property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors would yield many millions of dollars in cost savings to the deficit-plagued state.
A survey of likely voters funded jointly by the groups found 66 percent of respondents said they favor reducing the offense from a felony to a misdemeanor. The state budget shortfall remains around $15 billion. Brown and lawmakers have already sliced $11 billion. The three groups hope that their two sentencing reform proposals are part of the next round of cuts. A felony conviction for simple drug possession can bring a three-year sentence in state prison.