Almost four months after California voters approved Proposition 47, the law is having significant effects on Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system, reports the Los Angeles Times. A new report by the county chief executive office attempts to measure the effects of the law, which downgrades some drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors. Officials said it’s too early to draw final conclusions. Jail overcrowding has eased, as people serving time on Proposition 47 charges are released and new offenders are not being locked up. More serious offenders can serve a larger percentage of their sentences instead of getting out early.
Some people caught carrying drugs or drug paraphernalia are not being arrested at all. Narcotics arrests in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department are down 38 percent from Nov. 5 to Jan. 5 compared with the same period a year ago. The report quantifies an impact on court-ordered drug treatment programs: a decrease in enrollment because defendants are no longer threatened with much jail time. Sign-ups for the programs dropped from 99 defendants a year ago to 49 in the first two months after Proposition 47 passed. The county Probation Department has seen a reduction of about 3,000 cases from the same time last year. The county’s mental health system is adjusting. As inmates with serious mental illness are released earlier than expected from state hospitals, they will require county mental health services, which means a longer wait for others in need of beds.