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What Does California Prop 57 Actually Do for Convicted Felons?

California’s Proposition 57 will allow felons convicted of nonviolent crimes to become eligible for parole under certain circumstances. Despite opponents of the bill stating that it would lead to increased crime rates across the state, 63% of voters favored it, allowing Prop 57 to pass by a large margin. Now that it has passed, what will it actually do?

Prop 57 introduces two changes to the criminal justice system:

  • Felony offense selection: People who have been convicted of multiple nonviolent felonies, or multiple counts of the same nonviolent felony, that all originated from one criminal incident may only need to serve one of the resulting sentences. The Department of Corrections (DOC) now has the power to grant parole eligibility after the shortest of all sentences are completed. For example: A person convicted of three counts of felony drug possession is sentenced to three separate 5-year imprisonment terms; rather than serving 15 years for all three, they can become eligible for parole in just 5 years.
  • Juvenile crime charges: Prop 57 removed the power of District Attorneys to charge minors who commit serious crimes as adults. Now, all juveniles are charged as such and a judge at a transfer hearing must make the decision to escalate the charges.

The aforementioned changes are what California Proposition 57 actually do. But what will it actually do? Are the fears of letting nonviolent offenders “off easy” well-founded? The keynote point of the prop’s opposition was that sexual assault committed against an unconscious individual is considered a nonviolent crime. Will Prop 57 release rapists back onto the streets?

Probably not. It is important to remember that Proposition 57 does not simply release felons earlier from prison. All it does is give the Department of Corrections the ability to give them parole eligibility. The preexisting system and administrations that approve inmate parole and set parole requirements are still in place and untouched. The DOC could even choose to never grant early parole to nonviolent sexual offenders, only given it to other nonviolent criminals, to quell peoples’ concerns.

For more information about the rights of the convicted and the accused, or if you need help with a legal issue of your own, the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. can help you. Our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney has defended more than 1,000 clients throughout the years from all manners of criminal accusations. Call 707.418.5352 to get a free consultation with our team.