Reclassified: State Drug Laws Reforms to Reduce Felony Convictions and Increase Second Chances
Date:  10-08-2018

Five states that reclassified all drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor saw both a drop in prison populations and millions of dollars saved
From Urban Institute:

Recognizing the harm caused by felony convictions and the importance of targeting limited correctional resources more efficiently, state policymakers and voters have made key adjustments to their drug laws in recent years. Beginning in 2014 with Proposition 47 in California, five states have reclassified all drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Following the California referendum, legislation in Utah (House Bill 348 in 2015), Connecticut (House Bill 7104 in 2015), and Alaska (Senate Bill 91 in 2016) passed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and Oklahoma voters in 2016 reclassified drug possession through a ballot initiative (State Question 780) with nearly 60 percent support.

The reforms that have been passed in recent years share three critical details: convictions for simple drug possession up to the third conviction are classified as misdemeanors, people convicted of drug possession are ineligible for state prison sentences, and these changes apply to virtually all controlled substances. This brief explores the policy details of reclassification, the potential impact of the reforms, and lessons for other states looking to adopt similar changes to their drug laws.

Why Felony Convictions Matter

Over the past four decades, the number of people convicted of a felony offense has grown substantially, driven in part by increasingly punitive drug laws. As of 2010, an estimated 20 million people in the US had a current or prior felony conviction, about four times more than in 1980. Continue reading >>>