Los Angeles County officials voted yesterday to create two task forces aimed at helping residents convicted of felonies that are now eligible for reduction to misdemeanors under California’s Proposition 47, the Los Angeles Times reports. The ballot measure passed by state voters last year reduces some drug possession and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. People who have already been convicted of felonies under the old rules can get their convictions reduced. One task force, made up of officials from criminal justice and social service agencies, will look at how many county residents already have applied for reclassification and plan for reaching eligible offenders who have not yet done so. The deadline to apply for downgrading of charges in most cases is November 2017.
Los Angeles County Public Defender Ron Brown said his office has handled about 16,700 petitions that succeeded in reducing clients’ charges under Proposition 47. A second task force, mainly made up of county officials and business and labor groups, will be asked to consider ways to get ex-offenders into job training programs and connect them with other services. The group also will include two people who have spent time in jail or struggled with homelessness, substance abuse or mental health issues. Supervisor Hilda Solis, an advocate of the programs, said the county should “build a pipeline from prison to productive citizenship. These men and women come out of jail and find themselves homeless, untreated, and many of them unemployed.”