Letter to the Editor: Proposition 47 Adds to Crime Problems

Proposition 47 attempts to deceive voters.  The proponents of Proposition 47 conjured up the name “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” for a collection of bad ideas that will produce the opposite of what that title portends.

Proposition 47 will release up to 10,000 felons from prison and decrease penalties and sentences for crimes like gun theft, burglary, possession of date rape drugs, and identity theft.  California’s courts will be jammed with hearings with requests for “Get Out of Prison Free” cards, burdening a court system that can barely handle its current caseload.

Criminals must face meaningful consequences for violating the law.  The penalties for serious crimes will be reduced and felons already in prison for their crimes will be entitled to resentencing to county jail or outright release.  These early releases will be virtually mandated by Proposition 47.  These are felons who have prior convictions for serious and violent felonies.  Shasta County is suffering the impacts of AB 109 and a full jail, Prop 47 will make these matters worse!

Current law recognizes the severity of stealing a gun.  However, Prop 47 would turn gun theft into a misdemeanor.  Stealing firearms can only make a community less safe, but Prop 47 decreases the penalty for that crime to a slap on the wrist.  By converting felonies to misdemeanors, criminals who would otherwise be prohibited from possessing a firearm would be allowed to own guns.  Misdemeanors generally do not carry the same gun ownership restrictions that felonies do, so the passage of Prop 47 will lead to the increased arming of convicted criminals.

Prop 47 severely decreases the penalty for drug possession.   I’m not talking about possession of marijuana, but hardcore drugs like cocaine, heroin, and GHB (a date rape drug).  So a sexual predator possessing date rape drugs will only be charged for a misdemeanor under Prop 47.

The measure presents the potential to cripple California’s recovering economy.  By reducing the penalty for commercial burglary to a straight misdemeanor, Prop 47 declares open season on retail businesses.  This misguided measure reduces the available sanction for the theft of crops, livestock, and other agricultural crime.  California rises and falls on the strength of our agricultural economy; Prop 47 invites theft targeting our farmers and ranchers.  As long as a criminal steals less than $950 worth of goods at one time, no matter how many times he or she steals from the same store, even if previously convicted of robbery, it will always be considered misdemeanor conduct.  Fencing that stolen property will be just a misdemeanor if caught with property valued under $950.

There are many reasons to oppose Prop 47.  I know as thousands of felons leave prison, this measure will create even more pressure on our aged and overcrowded jails. Putting another unfunded mandate on front-line law enforcement officers who will be forced to deal with the criminals released by Prop 47 is bad.  Shasta County certainly does not need additional impacts on an already full jail and financial impacts on our local budgets.

Proponents will tell you that all this measure does is give first-time offenders and petty criminals a second chance while saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars.  The truth is, those types of offenders rarely end up in jails or prison.  By law, first time drug offenders cannot be sent to jail or prison and most counties have diversion and probation programs that allow judges and prosecutors to appropriately sanction minor crime by rookie criminals.  The savings generated by Prop 47 are illusory; a cheap, political trick designed to con voters into thinking schools and students will be showered with all of the money saved by releasing felons on to the streets and into our neighborhoods.   It all boils down to the fact that Prop 47 will result in more crime, new victims, and less safety.

No on Prop 47 is supported by the California State Sheriffs Association, California Police Chiefs Association, California District Attorneys Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, and many other law enforcement organizations.   Please join me and law enforcement statewide and VOTE NO ON PROP 47.

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6 Responses

  1. Avatar Trek says:

    There is a brand new, old/stock business park just sitting, collecting cow pies and star thistle. Rumor has it “Best damn asphalt in town” and yet no one can drive on it but a few with the right keys to unlock the Pearle gates. Just waiting for the city, county or a large corporation to build a new “NO FRILLS” prison. Other counties have done it and we spend good money sending them some of our finest. You want jobs? 100’s of jobs that could pay better than minimum wage, enough to support families? Here it sits, collecting dust, yet costing more than 21 million dollars ($21,000,000.00) so far, not including the incurred interest to date. Maybe someone has the recent updated amount spent? Don’t stop at a prison, build “NO FRILLS” housing for the homeless and a Doctor’s office for the mentally ill homeless to get help and or medication they may need. Build class rooms to help them get their GED or just learn to fill out a work application. Build it and they will come…..heck! Their already here waiting to get in! Money slipping through the city and county’s fingers.
    Do you remember Sen. Maurice Johannessen’s 1993 campaign slogan “Make welfare as hard to get as a building permit.” Maybe the city and county need their own slogan “Make getting out of jail harder than getting into.”
    Seems no one likes the homeless in their backyards, parks or panhandling and pretty much everyone agrees they don’t like the revolving jail house doors. It’s a “win win” situation! “Build it they will come!” Yes, I’m talking about Stillwater Business Park.

  2. Avatar Sheala says:

    I have concerns for the California Prison Realignment(AB109), Prison Overcrowding, and Prop 47. Some or most prison officials may think that housing inmates for non-violent crimes is a waste of money for the taxpayers and the State, but most of the people I’ve seen that are going back and forth to County Jail and State Prison are for non-violent crimes, because the punishment is so severe for violent crimes, repeat offenses are not high. Currently under AB109 the max time in the county jail is 10 days for a violation, and after 3 or more violations, an offender can spend 180 days in the county jail, which often they are released in 30 days or less and back on the streets to commit more crimes. There is no fear of being sent back to prison and serving a lengthy term, or life in prison for a new felony. Now on the November 4th 2014 ballot there is Prop 47 hoping to pass in where certain felonies would be reduced to misdemeanors. I believe this a BIG mistake for the safety of California’s. Most people that commit crimes, don’t like going to jail/prison, because of the years that the crime(s) carry, but now California is hoping to reduce that time for certain non-violent crimes just to save money, and or prison space. Has California noticed that most of the people in jail/ prison are there because of specific non-violent crimes which include personal drug possession, shoplifting and receiving stolen property because the time spent is already minimal, or they have the option of getting Prop 36 and or AB109 (which is a joke). So the State or County will either let those persons stay on the streets to commit more crimes and jeopardize the safety of most people, or let them receive the correct punishment and not reduce the current felony convictions to misdemeanor convictions just to save money.

    I fear that if Prop 47 passes, California is going to see a lot more crime, with people getting robbed at gun point, businesses being robbed while open, and loosing money due to bad check’s and families having to deal with the rape or death of a family member because of the date rape drug, or individuals robbing and stealing because of their drug habit, just to get more drugs, and of course back to jail they go, and more money the state keeps spending. It will be a revolving door because of the reduction in penalties that the crimes carry. If I had it my way, I would let them do the time the law allows for their crime as the law stands now, and then as part of their sentence, instead of being released back into society, they would immediately enter into a drug rehabilitation program, job or school training both designed to give them the tools needed to be able to have the choice to live a more productive life, without returning to the life of crime.

  3. Avatar Cindy says:

    I believe it is a misleading to say people don’t end up in prison for drug possession. Probation violation for drinking or smoking pot will land you in prison if your first charge is possession only. How many people go without a drink for three years especially in the 21 age group? Why are 10,000 being released? Are they all date rape drug sellers, if so they will not be released, are they gun theft crimes? Certainly not, the two I know will be reduced are for pot possession and commercial burgulary (stealing a six pack from the liquor store) These kids had lost thier right to vote, the right to college grants and now they will be made whole again. The most important thing about all of these crimes is under the old law it was up to the officers discretion if a kid is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Rich kids get misdemeanors and poor kids get felonies. This is a far law that will go far to reduce our prison budgets which far exceed our education budgets. Our violent crime clearance rate is so low it is embarrassing, much lower then the 60’s when the War on Drugs perverted the justice system. Let’s get murder’s, rapists, violent criminals off the streets and stop shaking down kids for what kids have done for decades. Our last three Presidents have used drugs and yet they grew up to be very important people. Had they been caught and charged with a felony none of them would have made it to that point.

  4. Avatar Former Magnolia Neighborhood Resident says:

    Non-violent crimes? Reduced consequences for criminals? Really? Just ask a car theft victim? A property owner victim of vandalism. Someone who has had their car broken into, and lost property they worked hard to purchase. A victim of identity theft. A victim of other types of fraud. A hardworking business owner who is a victim of embezzlement……. Think about the VICTIMS. Make the CRIMINALS accountable. Non-violent? Low-level? Petty? What’s the difference, they’re still CRIMINALS.

  5. Avatar Ross sumrell says:

    If I have been sentenced for a felony for commercial burglary can I reduce it. With prop 47 to a mistamenor