On November 11th, 2011, The Atlantic reported that approximately “One Year of Prison Costs More Than One Year at Princeton” The facts were shocking: one year at Princeton University costs $37,000, while one year in a New Jersey state prison cost nearly $44,000.
Because of the fact, a new prop has been created in California, named Proposition 47, also called the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Initiative”. It aims to decrease the sentence of non-violent criminals that are convicted of felonies, giving them misdemeanors in order to give schools more funding.
Supporters include the California Democratic Party, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, and rapper Jay Z.
In order to be a participant of Proposition 47, the convicted must have a clean history without violent or serious crimes.
The Initiative is set to:
-Mandate misdemeanors instead of felonies for “non-serious, nonviolent crimes that may include petty theft or drug possession.
-Allow re-sentencing to an estimated 10,000 inmates for any offence that is on the misdemeanors list.
– Give a thorough review and risk assessment of any convicted persons that are given a chance at re-sentencing in order to assure they do not pose as a danger to the public.
-Create and distribute new funds for safe neighborhoods and schools.
As of May 6th, SFGate reports over 800,000 signatures in support of the initiative, 587,806 being valid. Supporters state that by reducing the felony rate and prison population, the state could save approximately a billion dollars in just five years. NBC San Diego reports that an estimated $150 million to $250 million would be saved, giving more funding to schools and mental health programs.
In a recent concert, Jay Z mentions Proposition 47, stating “Prop 47, California: Build more schools, less prisons,” before performing one of his early singles, “Hard Knock Life”, also known as the “Ghetto Anthem”.
The list of crimes that are mandated to become misdemeanors instead of felonies are as follows:
-Possession of a narcotic drug.
-Possession of a concentrated cannabis.
-Crimes that do not exceed the value of $950:
As of June 27th, there has been no opposition that has campaigned against Proposition 47. The initiative is scheduled to appear on the California ballot on November 4th as an initiative statute.