While performing this past weekend in Pasadena, California, at the latest stop on his “On the Run Tour” with his superstar wife, Beyoncé, hip-hop star Jay Z commented on California Proposition 47. Prop 47 is to be featured on the ballot during the November election and emphasizes the reduction of nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It is believed that Prop 47 will lower California’s ever-swelling incarceration rates, which disproportionately affect black and Latino men.
“Prop 47, California: Build more schools, less prisons,” the rapper said just before launching into his 1998 hit “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem).” “More schools, less prisons, California. They’ll never be able to stop us.”
Proposition 47 is expected to improve public safety, and shift municipalities’ funding from prison spending to investment into public schools and drug treatment. Some believe that hundreds of millions could go towards these efforts if the bill is passed.
Some of the initiative’s expected benefits are listed as follows:
– Mandate misdemeanors instead of felonies for “non-serious, nonviolent crimes,” such as petty theft and drug possession, unless the defendant has prior convictions for violent and serious crimes.
– Permit resentencing for anyone currently serving a prison sentence for any of the offenses that the initiative lists as misdemeanors. About 10,000 inmates would be eligible for resentencing, according to Lenore Anderson of Californians for Safety and Justice.
– Require a “thorough review” of criminal history and risk assessment of any individuals before re-sentencing to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public.
– Create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund. The fund would receive appropriations based on savings accrued by the state during the fiscal year, as compared to the previous fiscal year, due to the initiative’s implementation. Estimates range from $150 million to $250 million per year.
– Distribute funds from the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund as follows: 25 percent to the Department of Education, 10 percent to the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board and 65 percent to the Board of State and Community Correction.