On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, 65% of California voters approved a proposition that grants prison officials more say in prisoner releases. An estimated quarter of the state's nearly 130,000 prison inmates could seek earlier parole under the new measure.
The purpose behind Proposition 57 is to reduce the state prison population and restore balance to the legal code that Gov. Jerry Brown says has become overloaded with tenacious policies. In addition, the measure removes prosecutors the power to choose when juveniles should be tried as adults, leaving those decisions to the court judges.
According to current law, judges instead of parole boards decide when most convicts are eligible for release. Brown states that judges are typically bound by mandatory minimum sentences, sentencing enhancements, and a variety of other laws established by voters and state lawmakers.
The proposition will allow inmates to pursue earlier parole hearings unless they have been convicted of two dozen “violent” crimes. Once they complete their base prison term – without enhancements for repeat offenses, being a gang member, or using a firearm to commit the crime – they are eligible for parole. Correction officials will be able to provide earlier release credits to inmates convicted of violent crimes as well.
However, the passing of Proposition 57 wasn't well-received by everyone.
Law enforcement considers it to be a dangerous measure which will put Californians and our communities at significant risk by allowing prisoners convicted of violent crimes to be eligible for early release. They also said that the initiative grants bureaucrats too much power and is “too much, too soon” since crime rates have recently increased.