The Rehabilitation of California’s Ballot Measure

By Vauhini Vara

Published in The New Yorker on October 20, 2014

“In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California’s prisons, which were then at nearly two-hundred-per-cent capacity, were so overcrowded that detaining anyone in them was a form of cruel and unusual punishment and a violation of constitutional rights.

“Next month, Californians will vote on Proposition 47, an initiative led by the San Francisco district attorney and a former San Diego police chief, which would try to reach the 137.5 per cent overcapacity threshold by changing certain crimes from felonies, which often result in sentences served in state prisons, into misdemeanors, for which county jail time, county supervision, a fine, or some combination of the three is more common.”

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