Facts About Prop 57: “The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act” of 2016
In November 2016, California voters overwhelmingly passed Proposition 57 (64% to 35%) to enhance public safety, stop the revolving door of crime by emphasizing rehabilitation, and prevent Federal Courts from releasing inmates.
Under Prop 57, CDCR incentivizes inmates to take responsibility for their own rehabilitation with credit-earning opportunities for sustained good behavior, as well as in-prison program and activities participation. Prop 57 also moves up parole consideration of non-violent offenders who have served the full-term of the sentence for their primary offense and who demonstrate that their release to the community would not pose an unreasonable risk of violence to the community. These changes will lead to improved inmate behavior and a safer prison environment for inmates and staff alike, and give inmates skills and tools to be more productive members of society once they complete their incarceration and transition to supervision.
Lastly, Prop 57 allows Judges, not Prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in Court. Prop 57 sought to restore Juvenile Court Judges’ authority over juvenile offenders by allowing Juvenile Court Judges to determine whether or not juveniles aged fourteen and older should be prosecuted and sentenced as an adult, repealing California Proposition 21, which was passed in March 2000.
What Does Prop 57 Mean For Existing Sentences and Parole Eligibility?
There are three main provisions under Prop 57, two relating to adults and one to juveniles:
1. Parole Eligibility Changes
2. Credit Awards Changes
3. Direct Filing Eliminated
Offenders who commit multiple crimes against multiple victims will be eligible for release at the same time as offenders who only committed a single crime against a single victim.
- Repeat offenders will be eligible for release after the same period of incarceration as first time offenders.
- Offenders whose sentence was enhanced for especially egregious conduct will be eligible for release at the same time as those who did not engage in the egregious conduct.
- CDCR will have unlimited authority to award credits to all inmates, in excess of the current 15%, 20% and 50% conduct credit limitations.
- Juvenile offenders who commit violent crimes like murder, rape and carjacking cannot be filed on as adults. They must be filed on in Juvenile Court and can only be found unfit by a Judge.
What Will Happen To My Conviction And Sentence Under Prop 57?
Prop 57 allows for parole consideration to any person convicted of a non-violent felony offense and sentenced to state prison after completing the full term for his or her primary offense. The full term for the primary offense means the longest term of imprisonment imposed by the Court for any offense, excluding the imposition of an enhancement, consecutive sentence, or alternative sentence. This can mean drastically reduced eligibility periods for those facing long consecutive sentences.
Under Prop 57, inmates who comply with the rules, avoid violence, and perform duties assigned to them, are eligible to earn Good Conduct Credits. Inmates who participate in approved rehabilitative and educational programs shall be eligible to earn Milestone Completion Credits, Rehabilitative Achievement Credits, or Educational Merit Credits. Inmates who perform a heroic act in a lifethreatening situation may be eligible to receive the Extraordinary Conduct Credits.
What will the expanded credit-earning opportunities do for inmates? Credits earned for good conduct and rehabilitative and educational achievements can advance an inmate’s release date if sentenced to a determinate term, or advance an inmate’s initial parole hearing date if sentenced to an indeterminate term with the possibility of parole. Credit-earning opportunities are available to all inmates.
What Do I Do Now?
If you or a relative or friend is currently in custody or served a sentence or consecutive sentences for a non-violent felony offense including theft, grand theft, grand theft auto, grand theft firearm, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, possession of a controlled substance, you may be eligible for relief; even if you have been denied parole. It is critical you consult with an experienced and qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer. Our California team has years of experience researching and preparing strategies for parole under Prop 57. Contact us now for a Free Consultation.