Data Tracker

Data Tracker: California jail population falls by almost 9,000 after Proposition 47

By Phillip Reese - preese@sacbee.com

In an effort to save money on state prison spending, shoplifting, forgery, fraud and other lower-level offenses are treated as misdemeanors under Proposition 47.
In an effort to save money on state prison spending, shoplifting, forgery, fraud and other lower-level offenses are treated as misdemeanors under Proposition 47. The Associated Press

California's jail population dropped by roughly 8,600, or 11 percent, in the months following the November approval of Proposition 47, the latest state figures show.

About 60 percent of voters supported Proposition 47 in November 2014. It reduced punishments from felonies to misdemeanors for a variety of low-level crimes, including grand theft, shoplifting, check forgery and drug possession for personal use.

The jail population declines following Proposition 47 were not uniform. Some counties incarcerated as many people after passage as before; other counties saw jail population declines of 25 percent or more.

Sacramento County's jail population fell by about 300, or 7 percent, from October 2014 to March 2015, according to a survey collected by the Board of State and Community Corrections.

Violent crime is up in several California cities this year, including Sacramento. Criminologists say it is too early to know whether Proposition 47 is contributing to the trend, especially as violent crime is rising in many places outside California not affected by Proposition 47.

This chart and map shows the change in jail population for each county from October 2014 to March 2015.

Source: Jail Profile Survey, Board of State and Community Corrections | Shown is average daily jail population in each county.

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