Along with many other courts throughout the state, Santa Clara Superior Court is beginning to see cases in which prisoners convicted of certain felonies are having their sentences altered. Proposition 47, passed by a wide majority on November 4, reduced many non-violent drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. People convicted of certain felonies may find themselves out of jail sooner than anticipated because of the new law.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that "there are nearly 4,800 state prison inmates eligible to petition for reduced sentencing, with 70 in Santa Clara County -- by far the most in the Bay Area. And, even more defendants -- in county jails or awaiting trial -- could also go free or have sentences dropped." The new law may be particularly significant for people convicted of three felonies. If one of their felonies is changed to a misdemeanor, they may no longer be subject to California's brutal three strikes law.

Inmates with sex crimes convictions or a history of violent crimes will not be able to take advantage of the new law. However, even when those inmates are not included, the passage of the law will likely save the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually in costs associated with housing prisoners.