MERCED, CA – Proposition 47, also known as the Criminal Sentences, Misdemeanor Penalties and Initiative Statute, was voted into California State law on November 4, 2014 and since then law enforcement has been stating that they can’t keep criminals in jail because of the new law. But we took a look at several Merced County cases and found that either law enforcement does not understand the new law or they are attempting to push up the crime rate by not keeping the criminals in jail in order to prove their point to the voters. As we saw in New York and other communities, if the people don’t do as law enforcement wants then to do, then law enforcement will just stop doing their job. So does that mean civil society should just stop being civil? No, and our law enforcement and their unions need to knock it off, too!
Many people who have been arrested in Merced County before the law came into effect were cited and released for violent crimes and non violent crimes alike. Brandon Aue is one that comes to mind and their are many many more.
So what is covered under Proposition 47? The new law basically re categorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, as they had previously been categorized. Crimes such shoplifting, writing bad checks, and drug possession and the money saved as a result of the measure is supposed to be spent on “school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment, and other programs designed to keep offenders out of prison and jail.” The measure included exceptions for offenses involving more than $950 and criminals with records including violence or sex offenses. So basically is someone steals money or property more than $950 then they are charged with a felony and anyone who has a past record of violence or sex offenses do not qualify for Prop 47. So, if a guy on probation with a violent history is arrested with a theft under $950 or is caught with a pound marijuana does not qualify for Prop 47 and if they are released from jail it is for other reason than Prop 47.
Since 1986, funding for prisons has spiked 141%.
In the 1980’s crime was out-of-control in California and the people demanded longer sentencing laws for violent crimes, crimes committed with a gun and repeat offenders. The “10, 20, Life;Use a Gun and Your Done” law that made it an enhancement to a prison sentence of 10 years for using a gun during a crime, 20 years if you fire the gun, and 25 years to life for killing or seriously injuring someone with a gun during the commission of a crime. But our state saw more than just getting violent felons off the streets with the longer incarcerations, it saw an ever expanding penal system that was gainfully employing a lot of people with good paying jobs and they wanted more.
Then in the 1990’s and through the 2000’s we saw our prison system swell to over $74 billion dollars annually (2012 DOJ) in California and we were incarcerating people faster than we could build space to house them. We went from rehabilitation to straight incarceration and even allowed the gangs to run and control our prisons. Why is that?
Attorney’s prosecutors, judges and law enforcement for some reason are attempting to put public safety in danger when all they have to do is actually follow Prop 47 guidelines and work harder to keep the violent criminals and sexual predators behind bars rather than attempting to make a statement which places public safety in jeopardy.
Four other states passed similar laws including Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas and three of those four have reported a decrease in crime. So why not pick up the phone and call those states who are making the new law a success? Or will we keep hearing law enforcement and prosecutors complain about the new law voted in by the people that they are supposed to abide by? Imagine if law makers (attorneys) passed a law saying that all Californians must follow and because we didn’t like it, we came up with a way to make that law look really bad by finding the loop holes and exploiting it. You can bet they’d be able to arrest us and keep us in jail for as long as they like.
So enough with the whining over Prop 47, do your jobs and incarcerate the bad people especially if they have a violent or sexual predator past. And if you don’t want to do the job then seriously, quit complaining and allow someone else to do the job.