Public Defender’s Office offers free assistance to those who may benefit from Prop. 47

The Public Defender’s Office announced that it will offer free assistance to San Franciscans who may benefit from California's recently passed Proposition 47.

Prop. 47 was sponsored by District Attorney George Gascón and retired San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, and it is meant to change low-level, nonviolent offenses such as drug possession and petty theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

Known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, the measure is also meant to take any savings in prison spending and dedicate it to school improvements, victim services and mental health treatment.

The measure was passed by more than 59 percent of voters Nov. 4.

The Public Defender’s Office has set up an information line to assist former clients and others seeking relief under the new law at (415) 553-9344, spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said in a statement Tuesday.

Common felonies that can be reduced under Prop. 47 include thefts of less than $950 and drug possession, Aparton said. Convicted sex offenders and those with a history of violent crime are not eligible for relief.

“Felony convictions are serious obstacles when it comes to obtaining jobs, housing, even financial aid for college,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said. “So it is imperative that eligible individuals have [their sentences] reduced as soon as possible.”

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