Less Crime Penalties Approved

California voters defeated Proposition 20, endorsing recent efforts to ease mass incarceration by reducing penalties and allowing for earlier releases.

Voters rejecting pleas from proponents of Proposition 20 to address what they called the “unintended consequences” of two previously approved ballot measures.

One lowered penalties for drug and property crimes in 2014, while the second two years later allowed the earlier parole of most felons.

Voters by a 62.3% to 37.7% margin rejected Proposition 20, which would have barred criminals convicted of certain serious offenses from earlier release, increased penalties for repeated retail thefts, toughened parole standards and allowed for broader DNA collections.

Opponents said the measure would have set back reforms just as the nation focuses on a criminal justice system that has treated people of color inequitably.

Jay Jordan, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice that backed the reforms, called the proposition's defeat “a significant milestone in California’s ongoing effort to make its criminal justice system more effective” and said it would advance national reform efforts


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