Eight years in the past, Californians determined it shouldn’t be a felony offense to commit low-level shoplifting, possess medication or commit different low-level theft offenses. As a substitute, they thought such crimes may very well be moderately addressed with misdemeanor penalties carrying six months to a 12 months in jail if prosecutors and judges actually needed that.
That’s the story of Proposition 47.
But, ever since, California Republicans, police unions and right-wing speaking heads have made it some extent to scapegoat Proposition 47 for everything (even non-Prop. 47 crimes, like smash-and-grab thefts and arranged retail crime) and repeatedly insist petty theft and drug possession are decriminalized (I want drug possession really was decriminalized, however nope, it’s a misdemeanor).
Not too long ago, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin, proposed putting a measure to repeal Proposition 47 on the poll for voters to resolve. “At present we are able to make crime unlawful once more in California. The Legislature is taking over my invoice to repeal Prop. 47,” tweeted Kiley when his proposal was scheduled for a committee listening to.
Final week, Kiley’s invoice, Assembly Bill 1599, predictably went down in flames earlier than the Meeting’s Public Security Committee. On the listening to, Kiley put up his greatest effort, by telling the committee that his proposal wasn’t technically about repealing Proposition 47 however that it was merely about letting voters resolve the difficulty. Blah, blah, blah.
The bill analysis is price studying for anybody really within the information about whether or not or not Prop. 47 repeal is warranted.
For instance, it notes a Pew Analysis Middle study which discovered that, “elevating the felony theft threshold in different states had no impression on crime; states that elevated their thresholds reported roughly the identical common lower in crime because the 20 states that didn’t change their theft legal guidelines; and the quantity of a state’s felony theft threshold—whether or not it’s $500, $1,000, $2,000, or extra— will not be correlated with its property crime and larceny charges.
The invoice evaluation additionally notes that California’s felony threshold for theft of $950 is definitely low in comparison with most different states. Solely 11 states have a better threshold. Let me repeat that. Even though Prop. 47 critics routinely act like $950 is an absurdly excessive threshold, the overwhelming majority of states have greater thresholds. In Texas, for instance, the felony threshold is $2,500. In woke Alabama, it’s $1,500. California’s $950 restrict is extra conservative than Alabama’s or Texas’.
The invoice evaluation additionally notes that, “whereas Proposition 47 did cut back sure theft offenses to misdemeanors, there are nonetheless authorized choices for charging thefts that decision for elevated penalties.” It maps out ways in which prosecutors can combination misdemeanor offenses to bolster penalties after they’re warranted.
“Repeated acts of theft may be aggregated and prosecuted as one felony if they’re carried out pursuant to at least one intention, one basic impulse, and one plan,” the evaluation notes, as one instance.
After all, Republicans peddling gibberish about Prop. 47 like Kiley don’t care about pesky issues like information. In Kiley’s case, he’s operating for Congress, which is what he at all times needed to do, so he needed to spice up his “tough-on-crime” picture with a proposal he knew was a waste of time. It’s the identical cause Democrat Rudy Salas, who can be operating for Congress, launched an arguably dumber piece of laws.
As typical, I like to recommend Republicans cease pretending it’s the Eighties, cease treating crime prefer it’s merely a political speaking level and begin partaking with the world as it’s. Issues of crime and justice are critical issues that advantage critical scrutiny and deliberate approaches.
Sal Rodriguez may be reached at email@example.com