Two brazen alleged criminals walked into a California store, grabbed merchandise, and walked right out. They did not care one bit and now they’re putting the 2014 California Proposition 47 to the ultimate test.
When Adam Corolla posted this video on Facebook, he stated the following about it, trashing California in the process: “Thanks to Prop 47 thefts under $950 will not be prosecuted, so cops will not bother showing up. Just a reminder that you get what you voted for, California!”
Now it’s somewhat unclear if the cops can or will prosecute, but after seeing this further information on Wikipedia, it seems like Adam Corolla might be on to something!
Here’s what Wikipedia describes California Proposition 47 as:
Proposition 47, also known by its ballot title Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties. Initiative Statute, was a referendum passed by voters in the state of California on November 4, 2014. The measure was also referred to by its supporters as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. It recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, as they had previously been categorized.
The crimes affected were:
Shoplifting, where the value of property stolen does not exceed $950
Grand theft, where the value of the stolen property does not exceed $950
Receiving stolen property, where the value of the property does not exceed $950
Forgery, where the value of forged check, bond or bill does not exceed $950
Fraud, where the value of the fraudulent check, draft or order does not exceed $950
Writing a bad check, where the value of the check does not exceed $950
Personal use of most illegal drugs (Below a certain threshold of weight)
OK, all of that seems somewhat normal. Most non-violent crimes probably shouldn’t be a felony anyway.
But this is where it gets murky and where criminals might have began taking advantage of things, and why police officers might not waste their time on what is now the equivalent of petty crimes.
The measure’s main effects were to convert many nonviolent offenses, such as drug and property offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors. These offenses include shoplifting, writing bad checks, and drug possession. The measure also required that money saved as a result of the measure would be spent on “school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health, and drug abuse treatment, and other programs designed to keep offenders out of prison and jail.” The measure included exceptions for offenses involving more than $950 and criminals with records including violence or sex offenses. For example, forgery had previously been a “wobbler” offense that could be charged by the prosecutor as a misdemeanor or a felony. Now with the passage of Proposition 47, prosecutors cannot charge a forgery involving less than $950 as a felony unless the defendant has a criminal record.
The measure both affects future convictions and allows for people currently incarcerated for crimes covered by the measure to petition for re-sentencing.
In November 2015, a report by the Stanford University Justice Advocacy Project authored by the co-author of Proposition 47, found that Proposition 47 had reduced the state’s prison population by 13,000 and that it would save the state about $150 million that year.
For impact on crime rates, see below.
The provision allowing past offenders to petition for resentencing would have expired on November 4, 2017, but subsequent legislation extended the deadline to November 4, 2022.
So they reduced the prison population, but did the people who committed the misdemeanors learn a lesson after being charged? Or did they see their crime as a slap on the wrist and an invitation to commit further crimes due to the lack of severe punishment.
And how does this all affect the businesses? Well, you see in the video above two guys walking out with stolen merchandise like they don’t even care to cover their faces or if anyone catches them. They literally don’t care that it’s all on camera. Why not?
The measure was endorsed by the editorial board of The New York Times, which praised it as a way to reduce overcrowding in the state’s prisons. It was also endorsed by the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which wrote that the measure was a “good and timely measure that can help the state make smarter use of its criminal justice and incarceration resources.” The American Civil Liberties Union also supported the measure and donated $3.5 million to support it.
Prominent individual supporters included Jay-Z and Newt Gingrich.
It’s totally fine to reduce the prison population and save prison for the serious offenders. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there must be a way to help prevent some of the more brazen criminals from becoming repeat offenders or ripping off a clothing store in the middle of the day and just WALKING OUT like it’s normal.
Impact on crime rates
In 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that “law enforcement officials and others have blamed Proposition 47 for allowing repeat offenders…to continue breaking the law with little consequence.” Also that year, a spokesman for George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco, said that the law “has made it easier for drug offenders to avoid mandated treatment programs.” The mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, has also suggested that the law may explain why his city’s crime rates went from decreasing to increasing. In a 2015 story in The Washington Post, the police chief of San Diego, Shelley Zimmerman, described Proposition 47 as “a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card.” She and other police chiefs also expressed concern about the increasing phenomenon of “frequent flier” criminals–people who exploit Proposition 47 to commit crimes. For example, one criminal allegedly brought a calculator into a store to avoid stealing more than $950 worth of goods. The ACLU responded by releasing a report saying that those who linked Proposition 47 and crime were “making irresponsible and inaccurate statements.”
OK, first of all – the ACLU is just being stupid at this point.
Second, if someone is bringing a calculator so they can make sure they only steal a misdemeanor amount of merchandise and not a felony amount, that is both 1) incredibly funny, 2) exploiting Prop 47 more than anyone, and 3) clearly there needs to be a fix in place to help prevent people from becoming the frequent flier criminals.
I have to ask. When you’re stealing $950 of merchandise, is that before or after taxes?
Prop 47 doesn’t mean people won’t be prosecuted, because they clearly can and will be – but Prop 47 opens the door for people to be a little more brave and try to break the law up to $950.
There needs to be some clear indicator that perhaps three misdemeanors for $950 count as one felony. Three strikes and you’re going to jail.
Then again, criminals might strike twice and call it a day – hurting businesses in the process.
What is the answer?
Well, I know one. For starters, stop breaking the law. But we know that’s too simple and clearly not everyone follows it.
What is YOUR answer?
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