Nov 7, 2014 5:38 PM by News Staff
A ballot measure passed by voters is already freeing California suspects from jail as their felony charges are reduced to misdemeanors.
Sheriffs immediately began implementing Proposition 47, which calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs as misdemeanors instead of felonies.
Reducing the charges means suspects in many cases will no longer be kept behind bars after arrests.
The measure is intended to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in reduced prison and jail costs. Under the initiative, savings will be diverted to rehabilitation programs intended to reduce crime.
Two-dozen suspects who were being held on the impacted charges walked out of Sacramento County jail two days after voters approved the initiative.
Other sheriffs immediately changed arrest policies while they reviewed which inmates qualify for release. Prisoners in state prison on the charges can petition for release.
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