Nonviolent Offenders. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Statute.

Requires State to expand and increase funding and oversight for individualized treatment and rehabilitation programs for nonviolent drug offenders and parolees. Reduces criminal consequences of nonviolent drug offenses by mandating three-tiered probation with treatment and by providing for case dismissal and/or sealing of records after probation. Limits court’s authority to incarcerate offenders who violate probation or parole. Shortens parole for most drug offenses, including sales, and for nonviolent property crimes. Creates numerous divisions, boards, commissions, and reporting requirements regarding drug treatment and rehabilitation. Changes certain marijuana misdemeanors to infractions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increased state costs that could exceed $1 billion annually primarily for expanding drug treatment and rehabilitation programs for offenders in state prisons, on parole, and in the community. Savings to the state that could exceed $1 billion annually due primarily to reduced prison and parole operating costs. Net savings on a one-time basis on capital outlay costs for prison facilities that could exceed $2.5 billion. Unknown net fiscal effect on expenditures for county operations and capital outlay.

At a time when one in 100 adult Americans is in prison, California faces a prison overcrowding crisis that may be the worst in the nation. The system is at 175% of capacity. This is due in large part to excessive incarceration of nonviolent offenders, many of whom are drug law violators. Overcrowding has been exacerbated by the state’s failure to provide meaningful recidivism-reduction programs, including addiction treatment and other rehabilitation services.

The measure would also make low-level marijuana possession an infraction–equivalent to a traffic ticket–rather than a misdemeanor, a sentencing change that could affect 40,000 people a year and conserve millions of dollars in court resources for other, more serious cases. To further help young people struggling with substance abuse, NORA provides dedicated funding of about $65 million per year to build a system of care that would offer treatment to at-risk youth.

Besides helping youth and people who have been arrested for nonviolent drug offenses, NORA would dramatically expand rehabilitation services for people in prison and on parole, and prohibit the return to prison of nonviolent offenders who commit minor violations of parole. Spending on these programs, which are proven to reduce crime and recidivism, will be more than paid for by reductions in prison and parole costs. NORA is projected to save at least $2.5 billion on future prison construction costs, too, by rendering new prisons unnecessary.

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