California reduces penalty for lower-level crimes

Nov 5, 2014 12:05 AM by News Staff

LOS ANGELES (AP) - California voters approved a ballot initiative that will reduce penalties for low-level drug and property crimes.

Under Proposition 47, shoplifting, forgery, fraud and petty theft are among the crimes that will be treated as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of less than a year in custody.

The measure, approved Tuesday by 57 percent of voters, is expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars in prison costs each year. The money will be diverted to school programs, victims' services, and mental health and drug treatment.

Proposition 47 was opposed by major law enforcement groups, but they were outspent by advocates.

The changes will affect about 40,000 offenders annually.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


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