In November 2014, California voters decided that the state’s classification of some crimes as felonies was overly harsh and needed to be changed. The voters passed Proposition 47 (also known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”) to reduce the penalties for certain drug and theft crimes.
There law changed the way these crimes are charged. Due to the change, those that have prior convictions for certain crimes are allowed to bring a motion before the court to have those felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors on their criminal record. Also, those persons currently serving a prison or jail sentence due to convictions for certain felony crimes can request the court in a formal motion to reduce their conviction to a misdemeanor and ask that their sentence be reduced or eliminated completely.
This new law has now been in effect for more than one year. Los Angeles County officials have determined that many persons who may qualify for reductions due to their prior crimes are not coming forth to take advantage of the benefits under this new law.
Two Task Forces for Two Goals
Under Prop 47, the deadline to apply for a reduction of a current or past criminal conviction is November 5, 2017; just three years after it became law. One of the goals of the law is to clean up the records of many people with non-violent drug and petty theft felonies.
If you have a felony on your record, you probably already know how difficult it can be to convince an employer to hire you. Reducing a felony to a misdemeanor is a major step toward getting your conviction expunged from your record, which can open up many employment and housing opportunities that you may not have had with a felony on your record.
With that in mind, Los Angeles County supervisors voted to create a task force of county officials from criminal justice and social service agencies. This group will determine how many people are eligible to reduce their convictions in Los Angeles County. They will form a plan to reach those individuals who have not yet applied. The goal is to find as many people as possible to ensure that a large and untapped workforce has an easier path to becoming productive members of society.