The Legislature’s non-partisan fiscal analyst believes Gov. Jerry Brown is underestimating the amount of savings from Proposition 47, the controversial ballot initiative that reduced some nonviolent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.
The initiative required the savings be used for mental health, drug treatment, truancy and victim services. In a report issued Friday, the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that the first deposit should be about $100 million more than what the state Department of Finance has accounted for.
In his January budget proposal, Brown set aside $29.3 million for the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund – $62.7 million in savings from inmate and caseload reduction, minus $33.4 million for resentencing and increased parole capacity.
The vast gap is mainly due to different methods for calculating prison costs. Thousands of inmates have been resentenced and released from state facilities under Proposition 47, pushing California’s overcrowded corrections system just under a court-mandated capacity.
Brown’s budget estimates that the average daily inmate population is about 4,700 fewer this year because of the law. But the Legislative Analyst’s Office noted that, to stay below capacity levels, most of those potential prisoners would have had to be contracted out to beds in other states, which would have set the state back an additional $83 million.
The LAO also said the governor is likely underestimate the savings from fewer felony cases being filed and overestimating the cost of reclassifying the records of former offenders who already served out their felony terms.