Prosecutors in California would be able to file misdemeanor charges instead of felonies in cases of simple possession of heroin, cocaine and other hard drugs under a measure sent by state lawmakers to Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday, according to the L.A. Times.
“SB 649 gives local governments the flexibility to choose reduced penalties so that they can reinvest in proven alternatives that benefit minor offenders and reserve limited jail space for serious criminals,” Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said.
From what I can tell all of the State Senate Republicans voted now. Click here to see the votes for yourself. State Senator Lou Correa, a Democrat, voted no too.
Former Assemblyman Chris Norby called me about this yesterday and he was very pleased to see that Chavez and Donnelly voted for the bill.
of filing misdemeanor charges is expected to help reduce prison and jail overcrowding in California and potentially reduce overall court costs because misdemeanor offenses do not require setting a preliminary hearing, as felony charges do. (West Coast Leaf)
“Our system is broken,” said Lynne Lyman, California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, one of the bill sponsors. “Felony sentences don’t reduce drug use and don’t persuade users to seek treatment, but instead, impose tremendous barriers to housing, education and employment after release – three things we know help keep people out of our criminal justice system and successfully reintegrating into their families and communities.” (Drug Policy Alliance)