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While Trump Wins Election, Several States Passed Criminal Justice Reforms

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

The American electorate voted on several state referendums during the presidential election, substantially changing the criminal justice system.

The ballot measure results were probably overlooked due to the relatively surprising victory of President-elect Donald Trump.

New Mexico passed a constitutional amendment that disallows incarcerating someone solely because they cannot afford to pay bail, according to the Associated Press. The change in law does allow judges more discretion on withholding bail if the defendant is deemed too dangerous to be released into society.

Roughly 64 percent of California voters passed Proposition 57, according to The Los Angeles Times. This reshapes the state’s criminal justice system by allowing nonviolent felons a chance to be granted parole or early-release credits if they complete educational and rehabilitative programs.

Nebraska voters decided to reinstate the death penalty, after a series of reversals of the measure occurred over the past couple of years. Californians also voted against repealing the death penalty, meaning the practice will remain in place.

Oklahoma, like Nebraska and California, chose to retain capital punishment. (RELATED: Obama’s Criminal Justice Reforms Don’t Include Civil Asset Forfeiture)

Voters in Oklahoma, which has the second highest incarceration rate in the country, passed two reform initiatives. State Question (SQ) 780 was successfully passed and reclassifies many felonies as misdemeanors, such as personal drug use and theft of property valued up to $1,000, reports Tulsa World. SQ 781 allocates the savings anticipated from lower caseloads and incarcerations to substance abuse and mental health community treatment.

Criminal justice reform advocates see the two specific reforms as a good sign for the future.

“It is certainly meaningful that in a state that voted for President-elect Donald Trump by a margin of 37%, voters also approved two ballot measures to enact reforms to their criminal justice system,” Jenna Moll, Deputy Director of the U.S. Justice Action Network, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

“As legislators and stakeholders are currently working to chart a path forward in justice reform, we are encouraged by this show of support from the voters and urge Oklahoma policymakers to continue to effectuate smart reforms to turn their state’s justice system around,” Moll continued.

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