If you have noticed an uptick in petty theft in your neighborhood, you are most likely correct in your observation.
It should not be a surprise.
Of course, you might naturally think it is due to the current coronavirus shutdown and the release of prisoners. Or, it is because you are home all day and you have more time to hear and observe the scuttlebutt.
The truth is we voted for this.
In 2014, Californians voted for Prop 47 which was cleverly titled “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”
It offered no financial impact to voters and proposed that it could save the state upwards of $150 million a year.
Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
The crux of Prop 47 was simply to rewrite the law. Crimes affecting theft or property damage of less the $950 dollars would no longer be a felony. These offenses would now be a misdemeanor and the perpetrator, if caught, would receive a “ticket.”
Crazy as it may seem, this was the actual intent of the bill and supported by many well-meaning organizations out of touch with reality.
The passage of Prop 47 immediately reclassified behind-bars felons with “minor” offenses. They were soon back onto the streets if their crime was valued at less than $950. Since the state no longer had to house those perpetrators as criminals, they were released and theoretically saved the state millions of dollars.
So, this brings us to the question, “When is a crime a crime?”
When someone steals a purse out of your car and it only has $700 dollars of your money in it, is it a theft or not? Should the punishment be incarceration or a “traffic” ticket?
According to Prop 47, it is a “crime” that only deserves a ticket. It would be like, or the same as, making an illegal U-turn.
Are you kidding?
Do you think crooks have taken advantage of this goody two-shoes legislation?
Target, Walmart, Walgreens among many other retailers, have indicated shoplifting has increased 50 percent since passage of Prop 47. Other petty crimes, car break ins, home intrusion and vandalism have also increased.
What has this done to the cost of retail items and what has been the indirect cost to residents? Enormous, and this issue is not getting a lot of press.
Prop 47 was opposed by the California Police Chiefs Association and many district attorneys.
But they could not match the spending and lobbying of the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP and a host of liberal-leaning organizations and wealthy individuals that view crime as only a crime if it exceeds the $950 threshold.
Friends, I think we have been conned.
Often times, we never know what the side effects are, of voting for a law. The appeal of this law was that the state would be saving so much money. But now that we realize the cost of its consequences, that probably outweighs the money saved by the state. This article is a good explanation of the effects of prop 47. If voters are shown this, they’ll be smart enough to vote to repeal it. Many of us are experiencing car break-ins, etc. We should move to add a proposition to repeal this, and with the mention of what we are all experiencing in terms of theft, then we came a more informed decision.
I wonder what could be done as a consequence of small thefts that didn’t involve jail time. Something that might actually address the root of some of the problem. How about mandatory literacy classes or job skill training and counseling? There are a disproportionately large number of youth in juvenile detention programs who have learning disabilities (Dyslexia, auditory processing disorder, visual processing disorder,…). Of course it would be cheaper to just identify and remediate that issue when they were in school and before they were in JD, but our school system doesn’t have people well equipped to do that. I know, I had to take some classes and pull my kid out and teach him myself – after a year of Dyslexia appropriate instruction his reading jumped 25 percentile points.
Overall our judicial system needs rehauling. This is just another example of how it’s unable to effectively evaluate programs. We have 1) insufficient space to house criminals/or, 2) Ineffective or limited consequences for crimes or misdemeanors 3) not enough rehabilitation and workforce training to rejoin society 4) lack of holistic+ long term analysis of programs and policies, and 5) likely insufficient staff and budget to do the necessary evaluations. So many other countries have figured this out … I don’t know why we can’t.