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.

Guest Speaker

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