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Funding Worries Cloud Inmates Futures After Proposition 47 Reduces Sentences

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Less than a week after it was approved by voters and prisoners were released, there are early problems with actually implementing Proposition 47.

The measure is intended to change some drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors to ease the burden on courts and jails.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said more than 50 of his inmates have already been released from Sacramento County Jail, because under the law, they do not face felons anymore.

But where do the inmates set to be released go next?

Christine Morse with ASCEND, a local rehabilitation group helping former criminals get their lives on track. She says while Prop. 47 has good intentions, the money it's supposed to provide to organizations just hasn't appeared.

"Prop 47 adds probably hundreds of people to the already hundreds of people that are knocking down our door," she said.

The initiative is supposed to give money to rehabilitation programs by using some of the savings from jails, but Mike Rushform with the Criminal Justice Legal Fund, who opposed Prop. 47, says based on the state's record, he's not hopeful it will ever come.

"The funding has never been adequate, the programs aren't there for these offenders and now we're seeing it again with another proposition, which is going to put a whole bunch more offenders out onto the street," he said.

The same concerns are echoed by Jones.

"If I can arrest people and house them in my jail, I have as many or more programs in our correctional facility as anywhere in the state," he said. "But if they're not in my custody, they cannot avail themselves for those programs."

For past criminals like Tim Sanders, not being a felon may just be a new start.

"That pretty much clears up my record for better jobs even housing," he said.

Jones says those 50 inmates that have been released have been charged but not convicted. They will be back to face misdemeanors now.

He's still figuring out how many inmates will be eligible from release from the jail.

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