Placer County Law Enforcement Leaders Oppose Proposition 47
October 20, 2014
R. Scott Owens
Placer County District Attorney
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
Joint Press Release
R. Scott Owens, Placer County District Attorney
Sheriff Edward Bonner, Placer County Sheriff
Chief Daniel Hahn, Roseville Police Department
Chief Ron Lawrence, Rocklin Police Department
Chief John Ruffcorn, Auburn Police Department
Chief Rex Marks, Lincoln Police Department
For Immediate Release
Date: October 16, 2014
Assistant District Attorney
PLACER COUNTY LAW ENFORCEMENT LEADERS OPPOSE PROPOSITION 47
Proposition 47, the so called “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund,” if passed will have the opposite result of its title. The measure minimizes criminal consequences that will compromise the safety of our communities and prove costly for businesses and citizens alike. There are many reasons why Law Enforcement Leaders across the State of California are lining up to oppose this misleading proposition.
This measure that seeks to reduce criminal punishment is on the ballot this November. Proponents of Prop 47 readily admit that its passage could result in the early release of up to 10,000 persons currently serving time in state prison. Under the new sentencing laws that went into effect, people who are in state prison are there because their criminal records include serious or violent offenses. Under the "resentencing" provisions of Prop 47, people with prior convictions for crimes like carjacking, armed robbery, residential burglary, and kidnapping would be eligible to have their current felony sentences reduced to misdemeanors. These are not the "low-level" offenders that the supporters claim the measure is intended to help.
While the preamble of Prop 47 states that it will ensure that people convicted of murder, rape, and child molestation do not benefit from it, those previously convicted of crimes like robbery, residential burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon, will benefit. For example, under current law, possession of predatory drugs commonly referred to as “date-rape” drugs can be charged as a felony. Proposition 47 reduces possession of Rohypnol, Ketamine, GHB, and any other drugs designed to render a victim helpless to a simple misdemeanor.
The theft and drug charges that Prop 47 seeks to make misdemeanors can currently be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor at the discretion of the prosecutors and the courts. Typically offenders with little or no criminal history are charged with misdemeanors and those offenders who repeatedly commit these crimes and refuse to benefit from rehabilitation efforts are charged with felonies. Under Prop 47 no matter how many prior convictions a criminal offender has they may only be charged with a misdemeanor. In sum, no matter how many times the individual gets caught, a Judge will be forced to sentence him as if he were a first timer.
Proposition 47 would also eliminate automatic felony prosecution for a criminal who steals a gun. Under current law, stealing a gun is a felony. Prop 47 would redefine grand theft in such a way that theft of a firearm could only be considered a felony if the value of the gun is greater than $950. Almost all handguns (which are the most stolen kind of firearm) retail for well below $950. People don’t steal guns just so they can add to their gun collection. They steal guns to commit another crime. In short, criminals who steal guns are protected from felony prosecutions under Prop 47.
Prop 47 minimizes the impact of theft and forgery on the public and small businesses. A defendant with a prior residential burglary who forges a victim’s stolen check will only be charged with a misdemeanor if they keep the amount under $950. As long as a criminal steals less than $950 worth of goods at one time, no matter how many times he or she steals from the same store, even if previously convicted of robbery, they will always be considered misdemeanor conduct. And then fencing that stolen property will be just a misdemeanor if caught with property valued under $950. Without deterrence of a felony conviction and sentence, the offenders will undoubtedly continue to commit these offenses knowing there will be little consequence for their criminal behavior.
California does not need Prop 47. Our state already has many laws and programs that allow judges and prosecutors to keep first-time, low-level offenders out of jail and prison if it is appropriate. They have the discretion to order offenders to drug and alcohol treatment or other programs that may aid in their rehabilitation. They also have the discretion to sentence offenders who continue to reoffend to jail or prison. Prop 47 would strip judges and prosecutors of that discretion.
Please join law enforcement, business leaders, and crime victim advocates and vote no on Prop 47. The initiative may sound like a common-sense approach, but in reality Prop 47 is a dangerous package of ill-conceived policies wrapped in a poorly drafted initiative that will endanger the citizens and economy of California.