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In November 2014, Proposition 47, the Reduced Penalties for Some Crimes Initiative, was approved with the intention of reducing nonviolent and nonserious crimes to misdemeanor convictions. These reclassified crimes include drug offenses and low-level property crimes. Ideally, this would save California millions of dollars by consequently reducing the population of incarcerated inmates. Proposition 47 also supports using these available funds to increase rehabilitation efforts and combat recidivism.
Critics of the bill are concerned that Proposition 47 is perpetuating a greater problem by functioning as a “revolving door.” Offenders aren’t being sentenced with severe legal penalties or incarceration time, so they are able to return to the streets to repeat their crimes.
Many lawmakers and citizens are complaining about the overall consequences of Proposition 47. For example, retailers are expressing great frustration due to an increase in shoplifting incidents related to the “revolving door” effect. Many shop owners have been forced to purchase additional security defenses and surveillance equipment to prevent cases of theft. For example, stores that originally had 10 security cameras have increased that number to 50, costing the owners up to $25,000. While these additional security measures are reducing the number of successful shoplifting attempts, it still isn’t a solution to the overall “revolving door” problem.
Likewise, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, there has been an increase in the number of monthly auto thefts. Before Proposition 47, up to 17,000 cars would be stolen each month. Now, the number has risen to 20,000.
In a controversial statement, DA Jeff Reisig is also blaming Proposition 47 for the “explosion of homelessness” across California. According to DA Reisig, “the homeless population falls into three categories—the ‘truly destitute’…those suffering from mental illness; and those who are ‘driven by addiction.’” He also claims that a misdemeanor charge is nothing more than a “ticket” with a 60-80% failure rate. Supposedly, many homeless people facing drug charges aren’t even coming to their court hearings. While this comment lacks statistical proof, substance abuse is a major contributor to homelessness. With drug offenders facing less penalties and reduced incarceration rates, there could be a correlation.
Contact The Law Offices of Paul S. Geller if you require legal representation. Our Pasadena criminal defense attorney provides free consultations so our clients can thoroughly explore and understand their legal options.
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