Study: California Ballot Measure Cut Jailed Offenders by 50 Percent

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Researchers say a voter-approved initiative cut in half the number of offenders jailed for certain property and drug crimes, significantly reducing jail crowding in its first year.

Nearly 60 percent of California voters approved Proposition 47 in November 2014.

The ballot measure changed shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs from felonies that can carry lengthy sentences to misdemeanors that can bring up to a year in jail.

Public Policy Institute of California researchers reported Wednesday that there was an immediate drop in arrests and warrants for those crimes in the 10 counties it studied.

More offenders charged with those crimes were released on bail. The number of convictions soon declined. And finally, the average jail sentence dropped, also resulting in less time behind bars.