California's prisons have released 2,700 inmates after their felonies were reduced to misdemeanors under a ballot measure voters approved in November, easing punishment for some property and drug crimes, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The mass inmate release under Proposition 47 has resolved one of the state's most ingrained problems: prison overcrowding, state prisons chief Jeffrey Beard told a Senate committee yesterday. Prop. 47 has allowed the state to comply with a court-ordered inmate reduction mandate a year ahead of schedule, he said.
Law enforcement leaders say they've seen an increase in crime, and they believe it's because of Prop. 47. “The good news is we've addressed our jail overcrowding situation in California, which wasn't acceptable to anybody,” said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. “The thing we are grappling with is the tremendous rise in property crime.” Prop. 47 allows inmates serving sentences for crimes affected by the reduced penalties to apply to be resentenced and released early. Those crimes include shoplifting, grand theft and writing bad checks. About 150 inmates a week are being released under the relaxed laws. Initially, 250 to 300 inmates a week were let out.