Rescue California held a recent press conference calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to call a special session of the California Legislature to address the crime wave and smash-and-grabs taking place across the state.
As the Globe has reported, Proposition 47, passed in 2014 ridiculously titled the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” reclassified shoplifting as a misdemeanor for theft amounts under $950, and allows criminals to commit theft multiple times a day, is at the root of this crime wave.
Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney Michele Hanisee confirms this in an interview with Rescue California’s Mark Klaas. And she says Los Angeles and San Francisco District Attorneys are making the crime wave worse because they aren’t following the laws available to them. In Los Angeles, “all misdemeanor cases get an offer of ‘diversion’ – no charges are even filed,” by DA George Gascon, Hanisee explained. They are told “just behave yourself” for 6 to 12 months, Hanisee said. And even if they were to be prosecuted, they’d only get jail for 15 days in Los Angeles County.
The Sacramento Bee did a recent “Fact Check” on claims that Prop. 47 is to blame for the current statewide crime wave. The Bee says these claims are “Mostly false,” even after acknowledging, “Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, recently called Proposition 47 ‘the biggest con job in California history’ in comments to a Los Angeles Times columnist.”
“Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, said in a recent blog post the proposition ‘all but legalized retail theft,’ and ‘crime predictably rose’ after it’s passing. Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, drew a direct line between recent retail thefts and the controversial law. ‘We are watching an epidemic of theft caused by Proposition 47 that over promised and under delivered,’ he said in a statement last month.”
So what does the Bee claim?
“California Department of Justice shows property crime steadily decreased in the years after voters approved Proposition 47 in 2014, but not in the immediate aftermath.”
“The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California in 2018 studied how the proposition affected crime, and found no evidence it led to an increase in violent crime, but some evidence it contributed to a rise in property crime.”
PPIC also noted that Proposition 47 resulted in a decrease in the state’s jail population and a decrease in recidivism, or the tendency of a convicted criminal to reoffend. “By December 2016, the state’s prison and jail populations had dropped by more than 15,000 inmates. The state’s incarceration rate is now at levels not seen since the early 1990s,” the 2018 report said.
The PPIC incorrectly conflated the decreasing jail population with Prop. 47. California Governors Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom have been letting inmates out of state prisons and jails under a “reform” agenda.
Newsom even announced in 2020 he planned to close two state prisons in the coming years, and all three state-run juvenile prisons.
He’s also said he planned to increase sentencing credits to allow inmates to leave prison more quickly, shorten parole to a maximum of two years, down from five years for felonies, and let ex-felons earn their way off supervision in just a year, or 18 months for sex offenders, KTLA reported.
ADA Hanisee said after Proposition 47, thefts didn’t go down, but were underreported. “What we have seen anecdotally from talking to police officers is that when citizens and business owners learned they would have to take an hour or two out of their day to file a police report and nothing was going to happen, they decided to not waste their time by dealing with the police and the court system and to just suffer the losses.”
“Proposition 47 didn’t just make theft under $950 a misdemeanor, but also got rid of what we called “priorability”; [it] interfered with the police’s ability to arrest someone for misdemeanor shoplifting, unless they actually witnessed it. Then of course, Proposition 57 allowed early release of not only nonviolent felons, but also sex offenders and three strikers. If you add to that some of the current policies we are seeing from the district attorneys and the courts, such as zero bail and district attorneys who won’t prosecute misdemeanors, it creates a perfect storm and there is just no consequence for crime.”
Assembly Bill 109, in 2011, was then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature legislation he sold as “prison realignment.” However, AB 109 only served to overwhelm county jails by re-housing “nonviolent” state offenders from prison. Instead of building more prisons, Brown reduced the prison population by releasing or pushing inmates to local county jails.
Proposition 47 decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, removing law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, and raised the theft threshold to $950 per location, and bumped theft down to a misdemeanor from a felony.
Proposition 57, shamelessly titled “the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act,” now allows “nonviolent felons” to qualify for early release, and parole boards can now only consider an inmate’s most recent charge, and not their entire history because of this proposition. Notably, both Prop. 47 and 57 were given their ballot titles by then-Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Crimes now considered “nonviolent” under Proposition 57 in California include:
- human trafficking of a child
- rape of an unconscious person or by intoxication
- drive by shooting at inhabited dwelling or vehicle
- assault with a firearm or deadly weapon
- assault on a police officer
- serial arson
- exploding a bomb to injure people
- solicitation to commit murder
- assault from a caregiver to a child under eight years old that could result in a coma or death
- felony domestic violence
As Mark Klaas summarizes, “Criminals were held accountable through the Three-Strikes Law and enhancements for the use of guns during robberies. By 2003, crime had been cut in California. Both violent crime and property crime had been cut in half. But, starting with AB 109, which was in 2011, it all started falling apart. Back then, there was accountability. Now, there’s not even wrist slapping.”
Fact check anyone?