With California’s ongoing crime spike exploding across the state, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, James Gallagher, and Jim Patterson authored Assembly Bill 1599 to repeal Proposition 47, in early January. AB 1599 would more substantially eliminate Prop 47, repealing all changes and additions made by the initiative, except those related to reducing the penalty for possession of concentrated cannabis, the Globe reported in February
Proposition 47, passed by misinformed voters in 2014, and flagrantly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” reduced a host of felonies to misdemeanors, including drug crimes, date rape, and all thefts under $950, even for repeat offenders who steal every day.
Prop. 47 which decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, also removed law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, as well as removing judges’ ability to order drug rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.
These are quality of life issues, which don’t differentiate between Republicans and Democrats. However, that didn’t seem to matter to partisan Democrats Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee, which voted along party lines to kill AB 1599.
“When Prop. 47 passed in 2014 voters were told that this so-called ‘Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act’ would provide needed criminal justice reforms,” Assemblyman Kiley wrote ahead of the hearing. “In reality, it has been a disaster for public safety, taking away the tools we need to rehabilitate drug offenders and opening the door for rampant retail theft.”
“Crime victims, law enforcement representatives, small business leaders, and legislators are speaking out in support of AB 1599 to give voters a chance to repeal Prop. 47 and restore accountability to our criminal justice system.”
Despite overwhelming evidence of rampant crime throughout the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom has continually praised Proposition 47, Proposition 57 and AB 109, claiming they had helped reduce crime in the state, rather than doubling down on the source of these crimes. Proposition 47 downgraded many felonies to misdemeanors; Proposition 57 reduced prison sentences, and Assembly Bill 109, Gov. Jerry Brown’s “prison realignment” scheme, shifted detainees from state prisons to local jails, overwhelming county jails.
The Globe reported on the poll released in February by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies which shows Gov. Newsom’s approval rating is sinking across most voter groups over rampant homelessness and crime throughout the state, among other issues like continuing COVID restrictions two years in, and never-ending mask mandates on kids.
“Contributing to voters’ more mixed assessment of the Governor are growing concerns of how Newsom is handling several festering problems, such as homelessness and crime, that are now plaguing the state,” the poll said.
The UC Berkeley IGS poll found that 78% of voters believe crime has risen statewide and 65% say it has gone up in their local community. Most importantly, they favor changing Prop. 47 by a 2-to-1 margin, Kiley noted.
Despite overwhelming support at the hearing from elected District Attorneys, elected Sheriffs, police officers associations, chambers of commerce, businesses and shopping malls, the committee refused to allow the bill to continue.
Assemblyman Kiley even noted in his opening and closing testimony that California Attorney General Rob Bonta was in agreement that Prop. 47 needs overhauling.
“As someone who came in to the Assembly with Rob Bonta, I know where his heart is and what he wants,” said Assembly Public Safety Chairman, Assemblyman Reggie Jones Sawyer (D-South Los Angeles), challenging Kiley’s assertion. Jones Sawyer said tough on crime laws got felons off the street and “made wealthy Americans feel better,” but “more black and brown people were arrested.”
“This quick fix of locking up felons and throwing away the key doesn’t work,” Jones Sawyer added.
Perhaps the highlight of the frustrating hearing was during public testimony in support of AB 1599, a woman calling in and said, “I’m representing every Californian tired of living in this sh*thole” before she was cut off. That’s one way of expressing what Prop. 47 has done to California.
Hearing on AB 1599 to repeal Prop. 47. Caller in support said, "I'm representing every Californian tired of living in this sh*thole" before she was cut off.
That's one way of expressing what Prop. 47 has done to California! @KevinKileyCA pic.twitter.com/elAGe6prHt
— Katy Grimes (@KATYSaccitizen) March 8, 2022
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