Weird: Downgrading Certain Felonies To Misdemeanors Leads To Increased Crime

What happens when the Social Justice Warriors decide to treat drug offenses and property crimes as lower level crimes in the Progressive Utopia Of California? Debra Saunders tells us

(Real Clear Politics)  “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” isn’t living up to its promise. Also known as Proposition 47, the California ballot initiative, which was approved in November 2014 with 60 percent of the vote, downgraded drug possession and many property crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. Proponents argued that lesser punishment for low-level offenders would enhance public safety. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon was the rare prosecutor who pushed for its approval. He told the San Francisco Chronicle, “What we have been doing hasn’t worked, frankly.”

Gascon spokesman Alex Bastian told me, “The voters indicated that possessing small amounts of narcotics” should not constitute a felony. Californians don’t want three-year sentences for drug possession. I don’t, either, but on the ground, the legal fix is not living up to its hype. Prop 47 has made it easier for drug offenders to avoid mandated treatment programs. The measure reduced penalties for the theft of goods worth less than $950. Habitual offenders know that, critics say, and they’ve changed their habits to avoid hard time. The measure’s approval also prompted the state to free some 3,700 inmates.

Instead of hard time, I’d prefer to see other measures, like serious community service which also teaches valuable work skills, while keeping lower level offenders in minimum security. And work programs where convicts go out and actually work hard on roads and stuff. California preferred to give them tickets, including for property crimes. And, how about mandatory treatment? Oh, wait, because of Prop 47, there’s been a big drop in treatment. What’s interesting is that California actually had a property crime rate slightly below national average, especially for burglary and theft, though motor vehicle theft is almost double the US rate. Even their violent crime rate is barely above US average.

Anyhow, what happened after Prop 47 was implemented?

In San Francisco, theft from cars is up 47 percent this year over the same period in 2014. Auto theft is up by 17 percent. Robberies are up 23 percent. And aggravated assaults are up 2 percent, according to San Francisco police spokesman Carlos Manfredi. Burglaries are down 5 percent.

The City of Angels saw a 12.7 percent increase in overall crime this year, according to the Los Angeles Times; violent offenses rose 20.6 percent, while property crime rose by 11 percent. Mayor Eric Garcetti says Prop 47 may explain Los Angeles’ change in course from crime reduction to crime increases.

These are some of the areas that see the highest crime to start with. If criminals are now paying tickets equivalent to a speeding ticket, there’s no real need for criminals to worry.

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