Criminal law

Opinion: California should repeal Proposition 47, the Get Out of Jail Free Act for burglars


Crime scene tape
Crime scene tape across the sidewalk in San Diego. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Keeping communities safe from crime is one of the government’s greatest responsibilities. but, Crime has increased in San Diego Over the past year, if existing laws continue to allow criminals to be released from prison without bail and ignore what are now considered low-level drug and property crimes, San Diego will end up like San Francisco, full of overt drug use and robbery. .

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Proposal 47 Created an unsafe environment for everyone in San Diego. We can change that by petitioning our elected representatives to support legislation that would amend the law to limit it Crime on the rise in San Diego.

Many in California support that Changes to Proposition 47, A failed experiment in criminal justice reform led to the conversion of some theft and drug crimes into misdemeanours. The aim of the law was to treat those considered low-level criminals with more sympathy. But Proposition 47 actually led to A.J High rates of shoplifting and carjacking across the state, and San Diego is no exception.

By reducing penalties associated with property crimes, Proposition 47 lowers the priority of justice for San Diego residents and businesses, who are now increasingly the victims of burglars who operate with almost impunity. Even if the thief is caught on camera, local law enforcement has no staff to investigate what are now classified as low-level property crimes.

Theft is still illegal, some reports suggest Property crime has decreased in San Diegobut a lot Property crimes are not reported. This is likely because San Diegans believed that nothing would happen to the perpetrator when the theft was reported to the police. Unfortunately, they are right.

In addition to reclassifying some offenses as misdemeanors, the ballot measure raised the threshold for the value of stolen goods to raise a felony from $400 to $950. There were over 300 San Diego residents Recently polled on the popular community site Nextdoor and asked the question: “Should you catch thieves who steal a package off your porch, a kids’ bike or anything from an open garage if the amount is less than $950?” 96% of them said “yes”.

Efforts have been made to revise Proposition 47 in early 2022 so far Assembly Bill 1603. The bill would have lowered the threshold for petty theft and shoplifting from $950 to $400, and would also have allowed shoplifting to be tried as a felony again if the person who committed the crime had previous convictions. It was also introduced Assembly Bill 1599a bill that would have almost completely overturned Proposition 47 by reversing almost all changes and additions made by the initiative.

However, even with crime rates soaring, Both bills failed To get the council votes needed to change the law. This year’s new bill Repeal Proposition 47 has been suggested. Assembly Bill 335It would lower the limit for felony theft from $950 to $400 and eliminate several changes and additions made by Proposition 47 in an effort to reduce theft.

Organized retail theft is increasing Police and shop owners attribute it to Show 47. Shoplifters now operate openly with impunity. Thieves will bring calculators To make sure they don’t exceed the $950 limit. Thieves will go to the store, fill their backpack, walk out, dispose of it, and then right back to do it all over again.

Proposition 47 is a Virtual “Get out of jail free” cardBut those who steal must be removed from the streets, even for a short period of time, so that they cannot prey on law-abiding citizens. Many thefts are committed by criminals who are addicted to drugs and need to steal to support their addiction.

Even if they are caught with a few stolen goods or small amounts of drugs including heroin, crystal methamphetamine and fentanyl, they do not fear arrest because their crime falls under Proposition 47. But while they are in prison, counseling must also be provided to them, mental health services and drug use to help them regain control of their lives.

Although some of the criminal justice reforms introduced by Proposition 47 have been positive, the unintended consequences far outweigh the benefits. There are ways to counter the ill effects of rising crime rates from failed laws like Proposition 47 and the first step is to petition all of our elected officials to support AB 335 and end the damage done.

Mark Powell is a former reserve police officer with the San Diego Police Department. He served on the San Diego County Board of Education from 2016 to 2020, representing District 1.


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