Updated Tuesday, 11 p.m.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s Proposition 57 has passed after enjoying a strong lead throughout the evening.
Proposition 57 will make several changes to California’s criminal justice system, after 10 years of federal court oversight of its prisons prompted by overcrowding. Its least controversial part will change how some juvenile defendants are charged by allowing judges, instead of prosecutors, to decide if they should be charged as adults.
But two other provisions of Proposition 57 impacting adult inmates attracted far more attention and opposition. The ballot measure will let inmates in prison for crimes considered nonviolent under state law come up for parole earlier than they can now -- after serving the base term of their sentence, and before serving sentencing “enhancements” tacked on for things like having a gun, a prior record or gang involvement.
It will also allow the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to create a new “good-time” credit system so that more inmates could potentially knock time off their sentences for participating in programs like drug rehabilitation and education.
Brown says the ballot measure will give inmates incentives to change while they are in prison, reversing what he sees as the effects of a determinate sentencing structure he signed into law 40 years ago when he was first governor. That change in law -- which prescribed set prison terms for most inmates -- was followed by dozens of “tough on crime” enhancements and laws created by voters and lawmakers. Brown argues that those laws led to prison overcrowding and that Proposition 57 would help ease that crowding while also giving inmates a reason to improve themselves.