In early January, Governor Jerry Brown released his administration’s most recent estimate of state savings from Proposition 47, a 2014 ballot measure that lowered penalties for certain drug and property crimes and thereby reduced the number of adults incarcerated by the state. The Governor’s current savings estimate for 2015-16, $29.3 million, is dramatically lower than earlier estimates, which anticipated state savings in the low hundreds of millions of dollars per year. The Administration’s estimate is significant because it will determine how much state funding is directed to mental health and drug treatment programs, K-12 public school programs for at-risk youth, and trauma recovery services for crime victims as required by Prop. 47.
This Issue Brief describes Prop. 47, reviews the Governor’s most recent estimate of state savings from the measure, and highlights several questions that provide a starting point for evaluating the data and assumptions that underpin the Governor’s estimate.