It’s impossible to live a healthy life when you don’t feel safe in your neighborhood. Kids won’t ride on bike paths if their parents won’t let them outside. It doesn’t matter if the local market sells fresh fruits and vegetables if it’s too dangerous to walk there. And, what does it say about our priorities as a state when we invest more in jails than in colleges and universities?
At The California Endowment, we know that health and safety are closely linked. In fact, health—and the lack of it—is one of the biggest drivers of crime and violence. For example, almost 80 percent of people who are arrested have a substance abuse problem. Instead of ignoring addictions and just locking people up, we need to treat health problems, like addiction, with health solutions, such as drug treatment.
The recent passage of Proposition 47 provides a historic opportunity for California to invest in what really keeps us safe. Proposition 47 keeps those who have committed certain non-violent offenses, like drug possession and writing bad checks for a few dollars, from being sent to prison. Instead, they’ll stay in their communities where they can receive the help they need to get their lives back on the right path. And those who’ve paid their debt for these non-violent crimes will be able to clear their records, so they won’t be blocked from applying for good jobs or going back to school.
California counties are expected to save about $500 million each year from Proposition 47, mostly by not locking people up for non-violent offenses like shoplifting or writing bad checks. We believe that savings from Proposition 47 should go toward keeping kids in school, providing services for crime victims, and improving mental health care and substance abuse treatment in communities.
Now is California’s opportunity to build healthy and safe communities, so we’re investing in youth and residents, community organizations, the criminal justice system, from law enforcement to public defenders, city planners, schools, and health providers, who are impacted by violence on a daily basis to support their efforts to find solutions that work for everyone.
Neighborhood Safety: What We’re Doing
- Informing communities about the benefits of Proposition 47 and working with community partners and systems leaders to ensure savings from the new law are used for important services like providing mental health care and drug treatment services.
- Investing in “smart on safety” solutions that are restorative, prevent crime, build stronger communities, and hold kids accountable for misconduct while helping them learn from their mistakes so they can grow into responsible adults.
- Working with counties interested in addressing the underlying health issues that turn our prisons and jails into revolving doors.
- Providing our future leaders with training, development, and leadership opportunities that recognize their commitment to making California a safer, healthier place.