VOICES--The state Legislature has repeatedly beaten down common-sense attempts to fix the most egregious flaws in the social-engineering experiments known as Prop. 47 and Prop. 57.
Fed up, a coalition of public safety proponents has taken the initiative to address some of these flaws. A statewide ballot initiative called the "Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018" has been submitted to the Attorney General for title and summary. This initiative will enact a broad swath of critical reforms including preventing the early release of violent offenders, holding serial thieves accountable, reinstating DNA collection for a number of misdemeanor crimes and repairing the state parole system.
The California Public Safety Partnership (CAPSP) aims to qualify the initiative for the 2018 November general election.
Prop. 47 was a 2014 initiative which reduced a host of felonies to misdemeanors and has been widely cited as contributing factor to the massive surge in serial theft and an overall rise in statewide crime. Its proponents referred to the initiative as the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," although it had nothing to do with schools and made neighborhoods less safe. Prop. 47 made all thefts under $950 misdemeanors, even for repeat offenders who stole every single day. Under Prop. 47, a thief could walk out of a retail store with a flat-screen television every day of the week, and all they would get each time they were caught and convicted is a misdemeanor. The initiative would allow serial theft to be charged as a felony for people who are convicted of a third theft of property worth $250 or more. It would also allow thefts committed by organized snatch-and-grab theft rings to be charged as felonies.
By reducing some felonies to misdemeanors, Prop. 47 also reduced law enforcement's ability to solve violent crimes by eliminating DNA collection for misdemeanors. Countless studies have shown that DNA collected from "lesser" offenses, such as theft and drug crimes, helps solve more serious crimes including rape and murder. The initiative will reinstate DNA collection for certain misdemeanor convictions.
Prop. 57 was a 2016 initiative which was billed to the public as allowing early release for non-violent offenders. The tragic truth is that a plethora of heinous crimes qualified as non-violent under Prop. 57. The initiative will still allow early release of non-violent offenders but will add to the list of violent crimes for which early release is not an option. A few examples of violent crimes added by the initiative include: child trafficking for sex, rape of an unconscious person, domestic violence, assault of a peace officer, drive-by shooting, and exploding a bomb with intent to injure.
The initiative also plugs a gaping hole in the state parole system that was created by AB 109, a 2011 law that eliminated a return to prison for parole violators. The horrendous effects of this law were thrust into public view with the February 2017 murder of Whittier Police Officer Keith Boyer. The gang member who allegedly gunned Boyer down had violated his parole five times, but each violation got him nothing more than a few days in county jail, allowing him to continue to roam the streets. The initiative will require a mandatory court hearing for anyone who is charged with a third violation of parole.
There will need to be 366,000 valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot, and we're aiming to gather 600,000 by the end of April 2018. Our most powerful asset in getting this initiative qualified is you.
Please share information about the initiative with your family, friends, neighbors and on social media. Click here to like the California Public Safety Partnership Facebook Page. If you are a Twitter user, please use the CAPSP hashtag @CAsafety to help create viral support for our effort.
The state Legislature has turned its back on public safety. We have had enough, and we are taking powerful action to protect California's decent, law-abiding residents.
(Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles. )