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Proposition 47 — the 2014 ballot measure aimed at reducing penalties for certain nonviolent drug and property crimes — contributed to lower recidivism rates and did not lead to a rise in violent crime, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. (PPIC)

Proposition 47 led to lower recidivism rates among lower-level offenders, reducing their re-arrest and re-conviction rates by 1.8 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.  Mia Bird, a research fellow at PPIC, said Proposition 47 succeeded in its “intended effect of reducing incarceration numbers.”

Prop 47 aims to reduce recidivism rates by shifting resources from incarceration to mental health and substance-use treatment for lower-level drug and property offenders.  According to the report, this redirection of state correctional savings to treatment interventions has only recently been allocated, and thus the recidivism analysis does not capture individuals released after the implementation of these programs. A complete assessment of the impacts of Prop 47 will need to account for how increased interventions may affect crime, criminal justice contact, and recidivism, as well as responses by law enforcement to the reform.

The report further states that substantial reductions in re-offending as a result of the treatment programs funded by Prop 47 savings seem unlikely as this funding represents a very small share of corrections spending in California.  However, the initiative offers opportunities for local agencies to create or expand promising programs.  It also requires that these programs be objectively evaluated, in hopes of identifying and scaling up successful interventions.  As local agencies and the state learn more about which programs are effective in reducing recidivism, Prop 47 could provide a path toward the use of more cost-effective, evidence-based strategies within the criminal justice system. Find the full report at: Public Policy Institute of California