The Reality of CA’s Prop 47

201512.22

Prison Guard TowerIn November of 2014, the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” also known as Proposition 47 was passed with 60 percent of the vote in the state of California. This law was designed to downgrade property, as well as drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

The supporters of Proposition 47 believed that by decreasing the punishment for low-level offenders, it would improve public safety. Critics worried that it provided no leverage when it came to getting drug offenders into successful rehab programs.

Crime Shift

Since Proposition 47 was enacted, the City of Los Angeles has experienced an increase in overall crime of more than 12 percent. This also increased the use of bail bonds services.  Violent offenses increased over 20 percent. Property crime increased by 11 percent. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the Los Angeles times that Proposition 47 could be responsible for the city’s change in its crime rate direction. Before the proposition was passed, a person caught with drugs would be arrested. They would then go to drug court or be placed into a drug program. The person could be in custody and start getting some form of drug treatment. Now police will just give the drug offender a ticket. The case is then forwarded to the District Attorney’s office. The offender gets charged with a crime, but these people usually do not show up for their court date. This is frustrating for members of law enforcement.

Problems Acknowledged

Many criminologists and sociologists in California acknowledge there are a number of problems have developed since the passage of Proposition 47. Tom Kandos is a criminologist who admits there are problems with the law but believes it is a step in the right direction. He said the facts are unacceptable. California has a quarter of all the prisoners in the country and only a quarter of the population. According to Kandos, the overall crime rate in California is still much lower than it was thirty years ago.

Short Sighted

Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks stated that drug-related crimes decreased, but thefts and residential burglaries increased. He believes the advocates of Proposition 47 failed to understand what drug users do to support their habit. They are committing other crimes. People who are addicts don’t have a profession. They can’t keep a job. Nobody gives them drugs for free. They have to rob, steal and commit burglaries to maintain their habit. Many more need the help of a professional bail bond agent.

Decrease In Prison Populations

Since Proposition 47 has been enacted in California, over 4,000 inmates have been released. In Placer County, 28 inmates were released, and four ended up back in custody. A 14 percent rearrest rate. In Sacramento County, 42 inmates were released, and 25 were taken back into custody. A 60 percent rearrest rate. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has released over 3,000 inmates, and 14 were taken back into custody. This is a rearrest rate of .005 percent. It’s been accepted that a change as large as the one brought on by the passage of Proposition 47 will have consequences. One of them has not been safer neighborhoods in California.