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CALIFORNIA – A new fact sheet from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice (CJCJ) finds that Proposition 20 (Prop 20), a California ballot measure seeking to roll back recent criminal justice reforms, could disparately harm people of color. Amid a 50-year low in the state’s crime rate and a national reckoning over systemic racism, Prop 20 could result in thousands more Black and Latino Californians incarcerated.

The fact sheet finds:

  • Nearly two-thirds of those incarcerated under Prop 20 could be people of color. Drawing from 2019 arrest and imprisonment data, CJCJ estimates that there could be 3,000 to 6,000 new jail and prison sentences under Prop. 2066 percent of which could be for Black, Latino, Asian, and other Californians of color.
  • Black Californians could be arrested, convicted of a felony, incarcerated, or placed on probation at three to five times the rate of white Californians. Black people, who make up about 6 percent of California’s adult population, could account for nearly 20 percent of new arrests and more than 25 percent of imprisonments under Prop 20.
  • Prop 20 could result in charging decisions that skew increasingly punitive for Latino Californians. Latino Californians are already more likely to be charged with felony rather than misdemeanor theft. This pattern, if it extends to the property offenses that would be newly chargeable as felonies under Prop 20, could subject Latino Californians to more felony arrests, convictions, probation terms, and incarceration compared to white Californians.

Notes: Assumes 50 percent of potential new felonies will be charged and prosecuted as felonies. Arrest, conviction, probation, and jail population disparities are predicted based on 2019 data on the race and ethnicity of felony theft arrestees. Prison disparities are predicted based on 2016 data from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on the race and ethnicity of people incarcerated for property offenses.

This analysis builds on a recent CJCJ report that projected hundreds of millions of dollars in new state and local law enforcement costs associated with Prop 20. Yet the ballot initiative’s social costs could be even greater. Prop 20 would take people away from their jobs and families and impose lifelong restrictions on housing, employment, and education. As this fact sheet finds, Black and brown communities would bear the brunt of Prop 20’s increased investment in incarceration. 

Read Fueling Racial Injustice: Proposition 20’s Investment in Incarceration Would Disparately Harm Californians of Color »

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Contact: For more information about this topic or to schedule an interview, please contact CJCJ Communications at (415) 6215661 x. 103 or cjcjmedia@​cjcj.​org.