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Inmates released as Prop 47 is implemented

EUREKA - Proposition 47, the statewide imitative referred to as the “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act”, passed with a nearly 60% vote, and the effects are already being felt locally.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office says that just two days into the implementation of the prop, nine inmates sentenced to a period of time in the Sheriff’s Correctional Facility have been released.

Proposition 47 reduces a number of felonies to misdemeanors in the cases of non-serious, non-violent crimes like petty theft and drug possession. The law says theft of property up to $950, including theft of a firearm, is now a misdemeanor. The law also authorizes the resentencing for anyone who is serving a felony sentence for those offenses. The Sheriff’s Office expects more releases in the coming weeks as current inmates begin petitioning the courts to have their conviction and sentencing reduced.

“Now with prop 47 being law, we're going to see more people that are in the facility, under these conditions and terms, contacting their defense attorneys who will then petition the courts for release due to prop 47. So it will be a case-by-case issue based upon their defense attorney's and based upon sentencing guidelines through the courts. So we don't have any control over releasing or not releasing. We release based upon court ministers,” Sheriff Mike Downey said.

Prop 47 is called the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act for a reason. Money that would have been spent on these felonies, that are now misdemeanors, will be added to a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools fund. Money from the fund will go to the Department of Education, the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, and a correctional agency to provide help to these criminals instead of punish them.