What was at Stake: California’s laws have led to harsh sentencing, often for low-level, non-violent offenses. These sentences disproportionately affect communities of color. Proposition 47 was an opportunity to reclassify certain low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, which, active retroactively, would clear thousands of people’s records of felony offenses that stand as barriers to employment and would make thousands more eligible for resentencing, leading to a savings of hundreds of millions of dollar per year to be invested in crime prevention and other health initiatives in our state. Corporate interests invested millions in mis-information campaigns using fear-based emotional ads to convince voters that violent criminals would be released from prison, and they should vote against the measure.
Voter Engagement: As a partner in the statewide California Calls table and a local anchor group in Los Angeles and San Diego, we were part of the biggest statewide effort to engage voters on this issue, identify supporters and turn them out to vote. In these two cities, we reached out to 20,000 voters.
Social Media: We participated in a collective email-based strategy with the Prop 47 campaign to build a base of supporters to help spread the campaign messaging. ACCE Action identified 900 people in our online base who took action, many multiple times, to spread the word and support the campaign within their networks
Coalition Building: Working with strong statewide and local groups across California, our work with all of the California Calls groups is to build a long-term multi-year campaign towards significant corporate property tax and budget reform in our state. ACCE is a local anchor group in two cities, as well as statewide, and plays an important leadership role in creating a public campaign to change the debate on these issues. Each election cycle’s work continues to strengthen our collective work towards this goal.
Outcomes: Prop 47 passed with 60% of the vote across the state, and its reforms took effect immediately. Within days, there were stories of people being resentenced and released from prison for non-violent offenses. People who are currently incarcerated and people who have past convictions continue to file petitions to change their records, making thousands of people eligible for employment, public housing, and other critical benefits.