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Recommended: California’s Proposition 47—Crime And No Consequences

California’s Proposition 47 downgraded a variety of “non-serious, nonviolent crimes” that had previously been considered felonies to misdemeanors. These include shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing bad checks. As long as the total value of the stolen property is under $950, only a ghost of an offense has occurred. A thief may now steal something under that limit on a daily basis and it will never rise to felony status.

In the event that a perpetrator is pursued and apprehended, the consequence can be a small fine or a brief stay in jail, In reality, these repercussions are rare. In addition, DNA samples aren’t collected from misdemeanor offenders. Thus the DNA database has shrunk, making it more difficult for law-enforcement agencies to solve cold cases, including those involving rape and murder.

The underlying premise of Proposition 47 was to free up funds so the state could focus on violent and serious offenders. Savings would be diverted to school-based prevention and support programs, victim services, and mental-health and drug treatment. Therefore petty thieves, who might be drug addicts, would avoid costly and ultimately detrimental incarceration. The referendum had the support of California Democratic party and the American Civil Liberties Union, and the state’s voters passed it into law in 2014.

What could possibly go wrong?

That question is best asked of the people in California who are robbed and call the police for help. Overall, they’re blindsided by the slow (or non-) response. The surprise and anger they feel is tremendous. Nearly a thousand dollars in stolen property is hardly minor, especially to those who have little to lose. It’s not just the loss of personal possessions they’ll probably never see again that is so distressing, but the ruined trust in the system that they assumed was designed to protect the innocent.

For law enforcement, however, there is little incentive to chase down low-level criminals. Even if the person is escorted to the station, odds are great he’ll be back on the street in an hour or so.

Read more at nationalreview.com


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