Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ), a project of the Tides Center, is a nonprofit working to create common sense solutions to California’s failing prison and justice system while building safe and healthy communities. Since its inception in 2011 the project has aimed to reduce incarceration at the state and local level, reallocate resources to prevention, education, health and measures that supports sustainable reform plans. CSJ is engaged in policy creation, research, advocacy, public education and communications, trainings to encourage county-level reform, and alliance building across California’s constituencies.
Sentence reform became a primary goal of the project following the implementation of Public Safety Realignment, the state prison reduction law passed in response to a US Supreme Court prison population cap mandate. In order to achieve the necessary policy changes, CSJ created the Alliance for Safety and Justice Action (ASJ Action) to launch their “Yes on Proposition 47” campaign in 2013. Proposition 47 offered reducing felony charges for certain drug and property offenses to misdemeanors to allow for prison releases and elimination of barriers to reentry as well as the potential for hundreds of millions in state savings. These savings were to be spent on school dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment should the initiative pass.
In a historic campaign victory Proposition 47 passed with 60% yes on November 4, 2014. It is estimated that the measure will produce around $100 million in savings per year from reduced prison costs. Since the propositions enactment over 3500 prisoners have been released, over 10,000 people have cleared their felony record and removed significant barriers to reentry, and county jail populations across the state have seen a 10-25% reduction in population. Following the measure’s victory, CSJ is working to effectively implement Proposition 47.