By Douglas V. Gibbs
The Democrats in California had an idea that to help with the overpopulation in the jails they would convert some offenses to lesser offenses. Proposition 47 in 2014 was sold as a way to reduce the punishment for drug possession, and empty those spaces to make room for more serious offenders.
Republicans and Conservatives warned that the arguments were flawed, that the conversion of felonies into misdemeanors would increase crime, increase drug usage, and facilitate continued addiction. The increase of crime came as expected, and has largely been regarding the kinds of crimes that addicts commit to support their habits: shoplifting, writing bad checks and any thefts under $950, which have also had the severity of the punishment reduced by Proposition 47.
From the Los Angeles Times: Before Proposition 47, when prosecutors evaluated the appropriate degree of punishment to seek for someone accused of drug possession or theft, they studied the person's criminal history. That history doesn't matter much anymore. Even someone who has been convicted and served time for a serious crime — such as armed robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon — can no longer be sent back to prison if convicted of a new theft or drug offense, because these have been reclassified as misdemeanors.
Crime has been minimalized, and normalized. No consequence, or a small consequence, encourages certain behaviors. Small crime is no longer a concern, the consequence is essentially gone, and so the numbers have skyrocketed.
Since Proposition 47 has gone into place, Los Angeles area property crime has risen 10.9% (burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, etc.). Violent crime, such as aggravated assaults and robberies, has soared 20.6%. Mayor Eric Garcetti told The Times those increases may be linked to Proposition 47.
The knuckleheads behind Proposition 47 also made it worse when it comes to illegal aliens. According to the L.A. Times, another law was also passed in 2014 which reduced the maximum misdemeanor sentence from 365 days to 364 days. Under federal immigration law, a noncitizen who is convicted of an offense punishable by 365 days or more can be deported. With many felonies now reduced to 364-day misdemeanors, some criminals who otherwise would have been deported get to stay.
The L.A. Times continues: The justice system lost all leverage to mandate rehabilitative drug programs. There is no incentive for an offender to accept a court-ordered 18-month to two-year intensive treatment program when the maximum consequence for a drug conviction is a six-month term in county jail. In many cases the jail sentence means only a few days, or even just hours, in custody because the jails have to make room for the felons sent from state prison under that other great reform called realignment. The treatment program rolls are down 60% in L.A. County, and addicted offenders are not getting the treatment they desperately need.
Proposition 47 also took away a tool to fight sex crimes when it reduced the penalty for possession of dangerous date-rape drugs to a misdemeanor.
In other words, everything the Republicans said Proposition 47 would cause, and everything the Democrats swore was not true, came to pass. Now, the question is, are the Democrats willing to clean up the mess by strengthening laws regarding all crimes, or is the chaos exactly what they were hoping for?
-- Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary