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Monday, May 27, 2024

California Proposition 47

The impact of Prop 47 on crime in San Francisco

California Bob has a few words to say on the subject.


Passed in 2014, goal was to "lower incarceration." It raised the threshold for felony theft from $400 to $950, and lowered simple possession of illegal drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

Cheekily marketed as the "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act," b/c the money saved on incarceration would be reinvested in county-level "prevention."

Many claim Prop 47 eliminates penalties -- but the fact is misdemeanors are still punishable by 1 year in county jail or $1,000 fine. Jail time, theoretically, is still there.

However, fewer arrests happening, b/c (1) retailers don't want the danger or liability of having employees intervene, and (2) theft is a low priority for cops and DA's and (3) if arrests are made and convictions happen, judge aren't handing down sentences, b/c "reduce incarceration." So everybody's just kind of given up.

Interestingly, Texas has a $2,500 threshold for felony, much more lenient than California. And 8 other states have thresholds more lenient than CA.

Many blame Prop 47 for the "flash mob" shoplifters, but gangs of people robbing the Gucci store are still very much a felony -- not protected by Prop 47. Flash mobs are more a result of social media coordination, not reduced penalties.

One big impact is drug arrests: many drug arrests used to get settled in "drug court" with diversion to rehab, and there were some success stories with that. Now, with drugs no longer being arrested/charged, the addicts just languish on the streets, stealing and trashing things up.

There is a move to overturn Prop 47 and it should be on the ballot in November. It will probably be overturned.

My views:

Solution to shoplifting is with the retailers. Cops can't be everywhere. There are strategies to reduce theft for retailers: controlled entry like Costco, or keep stuff behind the plexiglass. More costly but doable. Putting a $10,000 Prada purse on a shelf next to an exit is inviting theft, and really, why should taxpayers pay for Prada's security?

Currently jails are only used to confine dangerous people. Jail as a deterrent is underrated. The only way to have a secure society like Singapore or Switzerland is to aggressively arrest crooks and lock them up. That would take a lot of investment, but omelet/eggs.

Putting addicts into some sort of rehab is preferable to letting them languish on the streets. Doesn't have to be rehab, a simple cage would be fine.

Lengthy but good discussion here:

Proposition 47's Impact on California's Criminal Justice System

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