State Fact Sheet

Public Safety in California



Public Safety Performance Project > State Work > California

In 2011, the Supreme Court ordered California to reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates within two years. In response, the state implemented what is likely the most dramatic prison reform in American history—a prison “realignment” plan that shifts tens of thousands of “non-violent, non-serious, and non-sex” offenders from state to county responsibility.  Though the state is providing some funding to the counties, many jurisdictions are struggling to provide adequate jail, probation and parole services, and must now make local decisions about which offenders should be put behind bars and which can be safely and effectively supervised in the community.

In addition, in the 2012 election, California voters by a two-to-one margin approved a ballot measure, Proposition 36, that modifies the state’s “Three Strikes” law. Now only serious felony offenses are subject to the third strike penalty of 25 years to life in prison.  The vote sent a strong message across California and the rest of nation that voters want expensive prison beds used for dangerous offenders.

Numerous state and national organizations, including Pew and its partners at the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Crime and Justice Institute, are providing research and policy guidance to various policy makers and stakeholder groups in California as it seeks to chart a path to greater public safety at an affordable cost to taxpayers. 

Report  | January 2013
The Impact of Probation and Parole Populations on Arrests in Four California Cities   arrow

Fact Sheet | June 6, 2012
Time Served in California   arrow

Issue Brief  | February 2012
The Impact of California’s Probation Performance Incentive Funding Program   arrow

Fact Sheet | January 2012
The Price of Prisons   arrow

Fact Sheet | March 2, 2009
1 in 31: The Long Rearch of American Corrections   arrow

PowerPoint | June 2009
Smarter Choices…Safer Communities   arrow

Report  | September 2007
 The Stanford Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections   arrow

Report  | June 2007
The Stanford Executive Sessions on Sentencing and Corrections   arrow


Media Coverage  |  November 8, 2012
Calif. Affirms Death Penalty, Amends 'Three Strikes'
Several thousand prisoners in California may be eligible to apply for sentence reductions, after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative Tuesday that alters the state's controversial three-strikes law. arrow

Media Coverage  |  November 7, 2012
California Prop 36, Measure Reforming State's Three Strikes Law, Approved By Wide Majority Of Voters
A ballot measure reforming California's Three Strikes Law was approved by a significant majority of California voters Tuesday, passing by the wide margin of 68.6 percent to 31.4 percent. arrow

Media Coverage  |  November 6, 2012
Proposition 36: Voters Overwhelmingly Ease Three Strikes Law
Eighteen years after Californians overwhelmingly approved the country's toughest Three Strikes law, they did an about-face Tuesday, easing the habitual-offender statute in a vote likely to influence criminal justice policies nationwide. arrow

January 29, 2013
Public Safety Performance Project
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