Prop 57: Voters Approve Early Inmate Release

In the latest criminal justice reform to pass through the state of California, California voters have also approved Prop. 57, the Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Court Trial Requirements Initiative. The measure passed with 65% of the vote. Prop. 57 is a yet another effort by Governor Jerry Brown to lower the state’s overcrowded prison population.

What Does Prop 57 Do?

Prop. 57 would make thousands of prison inmates eligible for earlier parole if their conviction was not for a “violent crime” and allow state officials and corrections officers to give early release credit for rehabilitation. The measure also strips prosecutors of the power to decide when juveniles should be tried as adults and leaves those decisions to judges. It is estimated that 130,000 prisoners could be released.

Prisoners will now be able to seek parole after completing their base prison term, without the enhancements that can add years to sentences for things such as being a repeat offender or gang member. However, Prop. 57 does not break down the crimes now eligible for parole. Rather, prosecutors and law enforcement have to look at the state Penal code, which explicitly defines about two dozen violent crimes.

Is Rape Now a Non-Violent Crime?

Law enforcement is predictably upset with Prop 57’s passage. They report that laws aimed at reducing prison time have increased the rate of crimes, such as the case of Prop. 47. They report that some violent felonies that are now reclassified as nonviolent include rape of an unconscious person or use of a date rape drug, domestic violence, exploding a destructive device with intent to cause injury, and assault with a deadly weapon.

According to other legal experts, Prop. 57 did not reclassify rape as a nonviolent crime. Rape by force is still considered a violent felony under the Penal Code. However, nonviolent rape such as statutory rape or the rape of an unconscious person is classified as a nonviolent rape, eligible for parole. Legal experts note that those individuals were always eligible for earlier parole than people who had committed rapes classified as “violent” felonies. Prop 57 did not change the penal definition of rape. Additionally, Governor Jerry Brown has already signed two laws that broadened the power of judges to officially adjudicate sexual assault as rape and created mandatory minimum sentencing for people convicted of rape in response to the Brock Turner case.

San Diego Criminal Defense Lawyer

The Law Office of David M. Boertje has handled all types of Misdemeanor and Felony criminal cases throughout San Diego County, including violent and nonviolent crimes, drug related offenses, and felonies. With the slew of criminal justice reforms that have passed into law, it is nearly impossible for the average person to keep up. These new laws can cause confusion and inadvertently cause someone who did not intend to commit a crime to face criminal charges. Do not try to fight any charges alone. Contact our office today and ask for a free, confidential consultation to see how we may be able to put our experience to use to help you.