Capitol Alert

Less on prisons, more on prevention? California starts the shift

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Two and a half years after 60 percent of Californians voted for Proposition 47, the initiative is coming to a head.

The measure reduced nonviolent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and reallocated the money saved into programs for mental health, substance abuse treatment, victim services and truancy prevention.

Now the money is finally going somewhere, and it’s a lot of money. $103 million, to be exact.

What took so long?

“The intent of the measure was to capture prison savings, so time had to pass in order for those savings to emerge,” said Lenore Anderson, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice, a sponsor of the initiative. “The first thing the ballot initiative did was change the penalty for six low-level crimes, and then the subsequent savings it generated in the state prison budget as a result of those penalty changes would be reallocated to prevention treatments.”

On Thursday this starts, after lots of back and forth between law enforcement and vocal proponents of the measure like the ACLU, Mental Health America in California and California Catholic Conference.

Opponents noted that crime rose in some communities in the year following the measure’s passage. Backers pointed out that stepped up prevention programs had yet to begin.

After whittling down a list of 58 proposals for funding from various jurisdictions across the state, the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) will announce later today which applicants will receive grants. Jurisdictions like San Diego County, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Joaquin County Behavioral Health Service, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and several others have received formal recommendations – for proposals that prioritized diversion, mental health and drug treatments in their local communities – but now await final approval.

Most of those who are chosen will be awarded between $1 million and $6 million to devote to their new programs, which seek to shrink the California prison populations and prison funding that have steadily increased over the past 25 years by addressing drivers of crime.

“This is a huge advance for California and what I hope is only the beginning,” Anderson said. “We need to continue to rebalance our public safety investments.

“With a high recidivism rate and with communities still dealing with cycles of crime and violence, the question that most Californians have been asking is, can we do better?” Anderson said. “Can we have a more balanced approach to safety – one that prioritizes local prevention and treatments over one-size-fits-all costly and bloated prison policy? This is a huge advance for California and what I hope is only the beginning. We need to continue to rebalance our public safety investments.”

RECALL WATCH: The campaign to recall state Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, has turned in 31,049 signatures to election offices in the three counties covered by the 29th Senate District, the secretary of state's office reported Thursday afternoon. Recall organizers need to collect 63,593 valid SD-29 voter signatures by mid-October to qualify a recall measure for the ballot.

PLEASE DO SHARE: California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, continues to create a whiplash, quietly raising money for a lieutenant governor campaign he seems to have no intention of following through with – he’s told supporters to go ahead and endorse state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Azusa, in the race instead. Speculation about a possible run for governor or for U.S. Senate has cropped up since de Leon’s been planning big-name fundraisers since last week, one of which is happening tonight out in Bel Air, hosted by Hollywood executive Peter Guber. Maybe four June fundraisers from now it’ll be clearer what de Leon is planning.

MONUMENTAL OCCASION: A happy 111th birthday to the Antiquities Act of 1906, passed way back in the day by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt and used since by presidents like Barack Obama to protect American wildlands and historical sites. Despite President Trump’s recent efforts to review and roll back the bounds of some of these monuments to benefit industries like oil and lumber, California has sought to defend the act. Elected officials and friends who promoted AJR 15, a resolution urging the federal government to let the monuments be, will speak outside the Capitol between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

WORTH REPEATING: “There are still people in powerful places who are resisting reality, who are resisting the obvious science that we know governs our lives.” – Governor Jerry Brown, speaking on the state of environmental affairs in the U.S. at a forum on electric vehicles in Beijing. On his last day in Beijing, Brown has one final meeting with Mayor Cai Qi and a speech at Tsinghua University.

MUST READ: Adam Ashton’s piece on a phishing test conducted by a state department.

TWITTER PRESIDENT: The connection between candidate and constituent can make all the difference in an electoral race, but what happens when you move on from a Twitter-based campaign to a Twitter-based presidency? Associate Professor Thad Kousser of the University of California, San Diego’s Political Science Department will discuss how social media has impacted how politicians read civil discourse in a lecture at the University of California Center Sacramento at noon.

OPEN ARMS, OPEN HOUSE: Today marks the start of a donation drive for Sacramento’s refugee resettlement agencies, one that will continue through “World Refugee Day” June 20. The office of Asemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, is asking for pots, pans, utensils, bedding and other items, starting at 6 p.m.

CELEBRATE: Happy birthday to Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, who turns 64 today.

Rennie Svirnovskiy, 916-321-1199, @RennieYS