California Governor Jerry Brown (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

California voters have the chance to radically reform the state’s justice system, allowing offenders to seek rehabilitation instead of becoming trapped in longer, mandatory prison sentences, says the California Catholic Conference of Bishops (CCC).
Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016, would correct the “tough on crime” mentality that overlooks Pope Francis’ appeal to reform the “inhumane conditions” that reduce those in custody to “a subhuman status in violation of their human dignity.” The initiative will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Gov. Jerry Brown says the proposition will save taxpayers money by reducing the wasteful spending on prisons. While keeping violent offenders locked up, the measure would grant the possibility of parole for nonviolent convicts, if they complete their full prison term for their primary offense.

As a pathway to rehabilitation and to cut down on reoffenders, a system would be set up to allow prisoners to earn credit for good behavior and education milestones. Credit would be taken away for bad behavior.

Under the new law, the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for certifying that these policies are consistent with protecting and enhancing public safety.