Californians are facing one of our most serious public safety threats in recent memory. The threat is Prop 47 — a ballot initiative that would flood the streets with thousands of dangerous felons and soften penalties to make misdemeanors out of serious crimes that are now felonies.
We face a huge uphill battle to defeat it. According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle column, the pro-Prop 47 forces have raised more than $3 million, compared to just $8,000 by the opposition. Recent polls show that about 6 in 10 people support it. But do they really know what Prop 47 is going to do if it passes?
That’s why it’s so important for you to get the word out about this ill-conceived and dangerous initiative. Its backers are peddling the sham that it would create safer neighborhoods and provide money for schools. They don’t want the public to know the following:
- An estimated 10,000 inmates could apply to have their charges reduced to misdemeanors and get early releases. An independent analysis determined the vast majority of these people have violent crime histories. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon and many other serious crimes will be eligible for early release under Prop 47.
- Prop 47 will protect gun thieves by eliminating the current automatic felony prosecution for that crime. Under Prop 47, firearm theft would be a felony only if the value of the gun is greater than $950, and almost all handguns sell for less than that amount. People don’t steal guns to add them to their collection — they steal guns to commit other crimes, including murder.
- Prop 47 will reduce the penalty for possession of date-rape drugs, such as ketamine, to a simple misdemeanor. No matter how many times the suspected sexual predator has been charged with possession of date-rape drugs, or with stalking female victims, it will only be a misdemeanor. The judge will be forced to sentence them as if it were their first time in court.
- A defendant with priors for carjacking and armed robbery will receive a misdemeanor sentence for daytime commercial burglary.
- Judges will be prevented from blocking the release of dangerous felons, except in very rare cases. Even if the judge finds that an inmate poses a risk of committing crimes such as kidnapping, robbery, assault, spousal abuse, torture of small animals, carjacking, or felonies committed on behalf of a street gang, Prop 47 requires their release.
- All drug possession cases, including possession of heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine, will become automatic misdemeanors.
- Shoplifting, theft, forgery and fraud — where the value of the stolen goods or forged documents is less than $950 — would be misdemeanors. The language of the measure suggests that even if a person forges multiple documents whose total value exceeds $950, the person could only be charged with a misdemeanor.
Prop 47 coddles sexual predators, increases the prospects of addicts continuing their addictions and committing crimes to feed their habits, eliminates current gun-theft deterrents and puts an enormous burden on small business by going easy on petty theft and fraud. It will burden our criminal justice system by overcrowding jails with dangerous felons who should be in a state prison, and it will jam courts with hearing requests from inmates seeking to obtain “Get out of prison free” cards.
Law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, business leaders and crime victim advocates recognize Prop 47 for what it is; a radical package of poorly thought-out policies, wrapped in a poorly drafted initiative, that will endanger all law-abiding Californians.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe put it succinctly when he recently told the San Jose Mercury-News, “Someone can commit petty theft 10,000 times and we’d still have to always charge it as a misdemeanor.”
Clearly, we’re not going to win the Prop 47 fundraising battle. But we must win the ballot box battle, and it’s critical for this state that we do. So, please talk to your friends, neighbors, relatives — everyone you can think of — and encourage them to vote NO on Prop 47 in November. Call and email your elected officials and encourage them to speak out against this dangerous and irresponsible initiative.
When a career criminal steals a firearm, or a suspected sexual predator possesses date-rape drugs, or a carjacker steals yet another vehicle, there needs to be an option besides a misdemeanor slap on the wrist. Proposition 47 DOES NOT put public safety first.