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Attorney General Sign. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

What the Attorney General Candidates Are Saying About Props 47 and 57

The California Globe presents a question and answer series with Attorney General candidates

By Thomas Buckley, May 10, 2022 2:20 am

Over the course of the coming week, the California Globe will be presenting a question and answer series with candidates running to become the state’s next Attorney General.  This is Part ll. Part l is linked below.

Without question, the public feels crime has increased in California in the past few years and many tie this spike in lawlessness to the passage of Propositions 47 and 57.

Prop 47, sold as the “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act,” recategorized many felonies as misdemeanors, one of the most notable of these being related to shoplifting.  Being able to steal up to $950 per day and face – very very maybe – only a misdemeanor charge has been directly tied to increased theft, shockingly prevalent “smash and grab” organized looting, and the sight of robbers bringing calculators in drug stores to make sure they stay under the limit.

Prop 57 dramatically reduced sentences for those already incarcerated and had led to the “early” release of thousands of criminals back into the populace.

Both have led the state to a point that the one of the top – if not the absolute top – issues Californian’s say they are worried about is crime – hence today’s question:

Propositions 47 and 57 have unquestionably changed California’s criminal justice landscape.  Did you support their passage and, if so, would you take the same stand today?  And, as Attorney General, how would you either expand or attempt to limit their impacts?

Eric Early. (Photo: Eric Early for Attorney General)

Eric Early:

I never supported Propositions 47 and 57.  Proposition 47 was sold to voters based on a complete lie, as “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”  Thanks to Proposition 47, we can now steal up to $950 at a shot and nothing happens (misdemeanors are rarely if ever prosecuted).  And also thanks to Proposition 47, drug treatment incentives for drug abusers were done away with.  Thanks to Proposition 57, good time credits have been terribly watered down such that felons are released long before their sentences expire.

As Attorney General, I want to be involved in two Referendums to repeal both of these failed Propositions.  I was lead counsel for the Newsom recall.  I will work closely with my friends Orrin Heatlie and Mike Netter, who oversaw the Newsom recall, to get the required signatures, get the Referendums on the ballot, draft straight forward and honest ballot and title summaries, and use the mantle of the AG’s office to continually explain to Californians why they must repeal these Propositions which have caused such huge increases in crime since they were voted in.

Daniel Kapelovitz. (Photo: Daniel Kapelovitz for Attorney General)

Daniel Kapelovitz:

I supported Propositions 47 and 57 and continue to do so.  Prop 47 makes shoplifting in the amount less than $950 a misdemeanor.  It also makes mere possession of a narcotic a misdemeanor.  Most people in California agree that someone should not become a convicted felon for committing these relatively minor offenses. Prop 57 makes it so minors cannot automatically be tried as adults, another improvement of the criminal justice system.  I believe that sentencing a juvenile to life without the possibility of parole should be a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause. Prop 57 also allows for the possible early release of non-violent offenders from prison.  Prop 57 is a step in the right direction, but to truly end mass-incarceration, we need further improvements in sentencing and crime prevention.

Nathan Hochman. (Photo: Nathan Hochman for Attorney General)

Nathan Hochman:

I opposed Props 47 and 57. Prop 47, which was sold to Californians as the “Safe Neighborhoods and  Schools Act” by the Attorney General at that time in charge of the ballot title and summary, should have  been titled the opposite. By slashing felony drug and property crime laws, Prop 47 allowed a wave of  criminals to get out of jail and face zero consequences for their actions. Retail theft is the prime example of this as thefts under $950 have risen dramatically and go unpunished.  Prop 57 doubled down on this  dangerous trend, and the combined result has been chaos in the streets (ex: Sacramento April 2022  mass shooting).

As Attorney General, I would push aggressively for reforms to Props 47 and 57, demand  that local district attorneys prosecute drug and property crimes to the fullest extent of the law, and seek  to expand the definition of “violent felony” to include crimes like human trafficking and domestic  violence.

Anne Marie Schubert. (Photo: Anne Marie Schubert for Attorney General)

Anne Marie Schubert:

Prop 47 was the biggest con job in California history, and I would support a repeal.

The correlation between Prop 47 and the rise in crime is undeniable and as data shows, “non-violent” theft and drug crimes often lead to violent crimes. As a result of the reduction of these crimes to misdemeanors, DNA can no longer be collected from these individuals. Fewer violent crimes are being solved as a result.

Further, under Prop 47, prosecutors cannot aggregate crimes and make it a felony. Thieves know this and keep on stealing without severe consequences. There are no real consequences for serial theft.

Furthermore, prosecutors no longer have the tools necessary to address drug addiction. Prior to Prop 47, drug courts were highly successful throughout California. As a result of the virtual decriminalization, addicts have no incentive to get treatment.

We need the tools necessary to hold thieves accountable. We need the tools to get treatment for addicts.

I support fixing the failures of Proposition 57-the early releases of violent criminals from prison. Under California law, felony domestic violence, drugging and raping an unconscious person, human trafficking of a child, felons in possession of illegal guns and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury are NOT classified as “violent” crimes. As a result, those sent to prison for these crimes, despite long records of violence, can be released after serving less than 50% of their sentence.

As Attorney General, I will advocate for changing the law to classify violent crimes appropriately, limit early releases for these inmates and will aggressively prosecute violent criminals.

Rob Bonta:

Oh well – one could not be criticized for hoping against hope yesterday…

So while he yet again declined to expand upon his views, California Attorney General Rob Bonta in the recent past said he could see making “tweaks” to both laws, an interesting choice of words as many, many “tweekers” have benefited from their existence.

It should also be noted that the man – Gavin Newsom – who gave Bonta his current job opposes any changes so one may be forgiven if one takes Bonta’s words with a gram of meth…oops, I meant grain of salt.

Read Part l: What the Candidates for California Attorney General Are Saying About Defund the Police, Restorative Justice.

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4 thoughts on “What the Attorney General Candidates Are Saying About Props 47 and 57

  1. Thomas, as Garlicdude commented previously, it would be good to know the candidates’ views on national law enforcement issues like “gun control”. I’m still leaning toward Schubert; I like her answers so far.

  2. I will give Bonta credit for being consistent! His silence speaks volumes and make it easier to narrow my choice for AG!

  3. Having followed Anne Marie Schubert’s work on high profile criminal cases and reading her answers she is my top choice. Eric Early may have done well getting the Newsom recall onto the ballot, but he didn’t follow through on educating voters when Newsom’s buddies rallied around and talked him up. That was a huge mistake imo. Schubert was one of the DAs who publicly warned voters about the national push to get soft on crime, reformer Soros-backed DAs elected. She’s at the coal face and knows what needs to change.

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