California Proposition 47: The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act

At a Glance:

Location: California

Date: 2014

Vital Condition: Basic Needs for Health and Safety, Belonging and Civic Muscle

Determinants of Health: substance use, justice system, neighborhood safety, belonging and civic muscle, adverse childhood experiences, healthcare access, neighborhood safety

Affected Population: Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Justice Involved Populations

Research Methods: Focus Groups, Literature review

Community Types: urban, suburban, rural

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Human Impact Partners conducted an HIA of California Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, which appeared on the November 2014 state ballot. Proposition 47 would reclassify six nonserious, nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors; allow people incarcerated for those crimes to apply for lower sentences, release, and expungement; and redirect savings from a reduction in the incarcerated population to mental health and substance abuse programs, truancy and dropout prevention, and services for victims of violent crime.

The HIA predicted that passage of Proposition 47 was likely to lead to better health and improved safety for Californians. Fewer people would be incarcerated for low-level crimes such as petty theft and drug possession for personal use. More than 9,000 inmates would be eligible for resentencing. Redirecting savings from a decreased incarcerated population—up to $195 million a year—to services for mental health, substance abuse, and truancy and dropout prevention would probably decrease crime and recidivism. The HIA found that 10,000 children could have an incarcerated parent released or moved closer to the family, leading to better juvenile health outcomes. With a felony removed from their permanent records, thousands of people would avoid the additional punishments of a felony conviction, such as restricted access to jobs, housing, voting, and other opportunities.


Proposition 47 passed in November 2014.

This Health Impact Assessment Report first appeared in The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health. The Cross-Sector Toolkit for Health was originally developed by the Health Impact Project, formerly a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The creation of this resource was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Pew Charitable Trusts, or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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