Unintended Consequences of Prop 47 in Butte County

Apr 29, 2016 7:05 PM by Hayley Skene

Proposititon 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act was voted into law in 2014.
The law lowered charges for some forms of theft, fraud, possession and other typically drug-related charges from felonies to misdemeanors.
While the intent of the law was to be compassionate toward addiction and reduce the incarceration rate, local authorities say this effect has been the opposite.
"I know that the intent of prop 47 intent was thinking we were doing people a favor... There is nothing compassionate about keeping anyone in addiction," said Chico Police Chief Mike O'Brien.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said that lowering drug charges is impacting the county's formerly successful drug court program.
Drug court gave offenders the option to seek treatment and maintain sobriety rather than spend time in jail.
Now that these crimes are just misdemeanors, the DA said drug court attendance is down 60%.
"Now what we're seeing is people saying, 'Why should I go through all the pain and trouble of trying to get off of drugs? Send me to jail, I'll be out in a week'," explained Ramsey.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says that crime has gone up since prop 47 passed.
"The people who are arrested for prop 47 crimes-I think they're having an impact on the quality of life and public safety on the streets," said Honea.
Local law enforcement said they'll do what they can to get offenders into treatment, and figure out ways to charge people appropriately if they seem to need a stricter punishment- or help with their addiction.
Jessee Wike, who has been a drug court participant since March of last year, said "It held me accountable. They just give us a little foundation for the rest of your life."

For more information about Butte County Drug Court website.


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