Proposition 57 was a California ballot initiative that passed in 2016. The effect is the implementation of reforms that change how California’s criminal justice system considers parole and treats juvenile offenders. Supporters of Proposition 57 argued that the increasing and continued incarceration of inmates in California was heavy-handed, excessively rigid, and wasted substantial tax revenue in the tens of millions.

Prop 57 was on the ballot on November 8, 2016, as a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute.

“yes” vote supported increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and allowing judges, not prosecutors, to decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.

“no” vote opposed this measure increasing parole and good behavior opportunities for felons convicted of nonviolent crimes and favored keeping the current system of having prosecutors decide whether to try certain juveniles as adults in court.

Under the provisions of Prop 57, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation must allow defendants convicted of specific non-violent crimes to be considered for parole once they complete their sentence for the primary offense.

Before the passing of Prop 57, sentencing enhancements could extend a prison term beyond the original sentence. Proposition 57 eliminates the requirement that defendants serve their sentences as enhanced. The result is earlier parole consideration for many defendants.

Prop 57 also altered the system for giving inmates credit for good behavior during their prison stays. Prior to the passing of this initiative, California law strictly limited the amount of credit (to little effect) an inmate could receive for positive conduct. Things such as good behavior, rehabilitation, job training, work release, and educational advancements are no longer subject to these prior limitations. Prop 57 allows the California DOC (Department of Corrections) to award more credit to inmates, which provides the opportunity for a parole date to arise sooner in time.

As for its effect on the way that California treats juvenile criminal offenders, Prop 57 repealed Proposition 21, which permitted the direct filing of juvenile offenders in the adult criminal justice system. Prop 21 gave prosecutors the sole discretion of whether to prosecute a juvenile as an adult. Prop 57 gives the judge the decision of whether to place a juvenile offender in the juvenile justice system or the adult criminal justice system.

The current movement in California criminal law reform is providing opportunities for those who have been treated harshly by the California criminal justice system. Proposition 57 is an excellent example of the public outcry for change and better treatment of those we incarcerate. The chance for early release may be possible for many because of Prop 57.

If you or a family member is currently incarcerated and serving an extensive prison sentence for a non-violent criminal offense, California’s ever-changing criminal law may provide options for relief that move up the effective date of parole resulting in a sooner release. John Patrick Dolan is a California State Bar Certified Specialist in Criminal Law, the highest achievement awarded by the State Bar of California to attorneys in the field of criminal law. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.

About Prop 57