Sunday, July 16, 2017

California's Prop. 47 revolution: Voters were sold a bill of goods

By y 

Officer Jose Ibarra of the Northeast Division talks with a homeless man, who is on probation. They found drug paraphernalia at his encampment but did not arrest him. With proposition 47 in place the officers said the City Attorney would just toss the case.
(Los Angeles Times)

As crime rates rise, Californians are realizing that they were sold a bill of goods on Proposition 47, the 2014 ballot measure that converted some felonies to misdemeanors. The campaign spin was all about reducing the punishment for drug possession. But proponents played down its dramatic softening of penalties for many non-drug offenses.
Under this law, more than 3,700 inmates have had their sentences reduced and been released from state prison. Drug addicts now often escape punishment for crimes they commonly commit to support their habits: shoplifting, writing bad checks and any thefts under $950 — even of guns. And most semiautomatic pistols and revolvers are purchased new for less than $950. This leniency just facilitates continued addiction.

Before Proposition 47, when prosecutors evaluated the appropriate degree of punishment to seek for someone accused of drug possession or theft, they studied the person's criminal history. That history doesn't matter much anymore. Even someone who has been convicted and served time for a serious crime — such as armed robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon — can no longer be sent back to prison if convicted of a new theft or drug offense, because these have been reclassified as misdemeanors.

Proposition 47 drug crimesProposition 47 drug crimes

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