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A new CJCJ brief finds that Proposition 47 could save Los Angeles County up to $170 million per year by freeing 7,200 jail beds, San Bernardino County up to $56 million by freeing 2,400 jail beds; San Diego County up to $52 million by freeing 2,200 jail beds; and Orange County up to $51 million by freeing 2,200 jail beds.

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, would reclassify drug possession for personal use and petty-theft-related offenses as misdemeanors, and will appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot. The CJCJ brief estimates the potential county-level savings and jail population reductions that could result from implementing the initiative.

Given the constraints on county budgets and jail space, we hope this analysis can help voters make an informed decision when they go to the polls in November,” says CJCJ’s Director of Policy and Development Brian Goldstein.

Potential savings vary considerably by county but are substantial, resulting primarily from the freeing of 13 percent to 38 percent of jail capacity. However, these potential cost savings are based on the assumption that the freed jail beds would remain empty. The actual savings will depend on how each county uses its freed jail space; many counties will likely fill at least a portion of freed jail beds, which would reduce savings. 

State-level savings would range from $100 million to $300 million. These savings would be transferred to a fund that would support mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, school truancy and dropout prevention, and victim services.

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