Back in 2014, California’s voters had the chance to decide on Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act. Billed as sentencing reform, what it really did was give the green light to a tidal wave of theft and criminality. The Democrats who supported the proposition say it’s been a great success, reducing the state prison population by 13,000 and saving more than $150 million a year on the corrections budget. Those whose lives are being blighted by increased crime and drug use aren’t so complimentary.
Most people agree that the US needs to do something about its bloated prison population — but is letting a whole slew of crimes go unpunished the best way to do that? California Democrats thought so. Now it’s coming back to bite them.
- Proposition 47 went to the state’s voters as a November 2014 ballot measure and passed with almost 60% of the vote. It recategorized many nonviolent offenses that had previously been felonies, turning them into misdemeanors. They included drug possession, writing bad checks and — most importantly — shoplifting. Theft from stores is now only a felony in California if it involves goods worth more than $950.
- The measure was supported by leading Democrats, including Kamala Harris, and Liberal pressure groups like the ACLU. The Los Angeles Times praised it, as did left-leaning celebrities — and a few Republicans, like Newt Gingrich.
- The reality is that the crimes downgraded by Prop 47 have become a lot more common. Police — as a matter of necessity — prioritize resources to solving more serious crimes, and misdemeanors can be pretty far down the list. That means if a retailer calls to report a shoplifter, the chances of cops actually turning up are slim. Even if they do, the criminals just get a citation.
- Thieves and addicts have been quick to exploit this. One thief was even seen in a store, using a calculator to make sure the value of goods they were stealing was within the Prop 47 limit.
- California Retailers Association president Rachel Michelin says she’s seen security video from stores that’s “completely insane.” She told reporters, “They will go into a grocery store, steal alcohol and walk out the front door with it. They know no one is going to prosecute them. The district attorneys aren’t.”
- Criminals are now so brazen that a vast open-air fencing market is running daily in California’s United Nations Plaza, right in front of City Hall. Thieves load up on $949 worth of goods from a store, sell it on the street, then go right back for another load. And, thanks to this misguided liberal law, it seems like nobody can stop them.
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