An estimated 200 state prisoners from Kern County are now eligible to be released with the passage of Proposition 36.
The proposition amends the Three Strikes Law so that only offenders who've committed three serious or violent crimes are eligible for life sentences.
Since the Three Strikes Law passed 18 years ago, Kern County has handed down harsher sentences to 405 criminals.
According to the Kern County Public Defenders Office, now half are eligible for release.
"It's been really sad," said Susan Johnson whose husband was sentenced in 1998 to 25 years to life in prison. "He got 25 years to life for attempting to use $5 worth of heroin," she added.
That's because he had two prior violent offenses. But, now since his drug possession charge is considered non-violent, Johnson's husband can petition the court for re-sentencing.
"It's going to bring my husband back, my kids' dad back, and my grandchildren are going to have their grandpa back. And, it's just a wonderful thing," said Johnson.
According to the Kern County Public Defender's Officer, there are about 200 Kern County prisoners like Johnson's husband, meaning their third strike was a non-violent offense like theft.
"This is not an opening of the gates. A very limited numbers of folks are going to benefit from it, and those folks in many cases have already spent the better part of ten years in prison," said Konrad Moore of the Kern County Public Defender's Office.
District Attorney Lisa Green does not think the Three Strikes Law needed amending. She said a lot of hard thought went into the sentencing of each prisoner. But, considering the outcome of the vote, she is now preparing her office to handle dozens of re-sentencing petitions.
"We are going to see a lot of those petitions, and this is going to be a huge increase in this office's workload which is unfortunate," said Green.
But, for Susan Johnson it's a blessing. "The whole family has done without him in different capacities, and now that he is going to be released we'll have him back."
The Public Defender's Office says these prisoners could be released in as early as a few weeks, depending on the actions of the District Attorney.
A judge has the discretion to deny re-sentencing if the judge feels the prisoner is a threat to society.