Policy Reforms

Spurred by a U.S. Supreme Court mandate to reduce overcrowding in its state prisons, recent policy reforms have led to significant declines in California’s imprisonment rate. The California legislature passed Assembly Bill 109, the Public Safety Realignment Act, in 2011. Realignment shifts the responsibility for incarcerating and supervising people convicted of non-violent, non-sex, and non-serious crimes from the state to the counties. To reduce incarceration further, voters passed two ballot initiatives. In 2012, voters revised California’s notoriously harsh three-strikes law with Proposition 36. In 2014, voters passed Proposition 47 – a measure that changed drug possession and several low-level theft offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, applied the changes retroactively and requires the state to reallocate the prison cost savings this generates into prevention and treatment. California’s prison population is now 22 percent below its peak in 2007 and as many as one million people are eligible to remove old felonies for Prop 47 offenses from their criminal records.


Californians for Safety and Justice works with crime survivors, law enforcement, business and community leaders, policymakers, health professionals, educators and crime-prevention experts in California to replace prison and justice system waste with solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) is a sister organization to Californians for Safety and Justice, also a project of the Tides Center.