Unprecedented Support for California Crime Reform from DAs and Businesses

A new ballot measure in California, aimed at amending the 2014 Proposition 47 which reduced penalties for certain theft and drug possession offenses, has qualified for the November ballot after receiving an unprecedented number of signatures.

Proposition 47, which was originally enacted to decrease the number of incarcerations, downgraded numerous felonies including retail theft and drug possession to misdemeanors. Under this law, the theft of items valued under $950 is treated as a misdemeanor, regardless of the offender’s criminal history, and many drug possession offenses were similarly reclassified.

However, a new initiative called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act has received over 900,000 signatures, significantly exceeding the approximately 500,000 needed to qualify for a vote. This strong public support reflects widespread concern over the current law’s impacts on community safety and crime.

Thien Ho, the District Attorney for Sacramento County and a proponent of the measure, explained in an interview with Fox News Digital that the high number of signatures indicates a strong desire for change among Californians from various demographics.

Ho highlighted that both small and large business owners, as well as everyday citizens, are deeply concerned about the law’s repercussions, which include escalating retail theft and drug-related issues.

Support for crime reform in California

Proposition 47 was initially celebrated for its potential to reduce incarceration rates, but Ho argues that it has led to significant unintended consequences, such as a fentanyl crisis, an increase in retail theft, and a worsening homeless crisis. He cited specific examples, such as a major retailer in Sacramento experiencing a 253% rise in thefts and a local convenience store where thefts occur frequently.

If the new initiative passes, it would reclassify certain drug offenses, particularly involving fentanyl, and introduce stricter penalties for drug dealers causing death or serious injury. The measure also proposes enhanced penalties for repeat theft offenders and for those involved in organized theft.

Two progressive Democratic mayors from California’s largest cities, San Francisco’s London Breed and San Jose’s Matt Mahan, have supported the reform. Breed, who originally backed Proposition 47, now acknowledges its negative consequences, emphasizing the need for real consequences for crimes.

The proposed reforms would treat repeated thefts under $950 as felonies if the individual has two or more prior convictions, and would allow for the aggregation of stolen property values from multiple thefts to elevate charges to felony level. Additionally, the initiative introduces a “treatment-mandated felony” category, offering treatment options instead of incarceration for repeat drug offenders, with successful completion leading to expungement of charges.

Business owners like Tony Konja, who runs a high-end liquor store chain in San Diego, expressed hope that the initiative would bring necessary changes to combat crime that affects businesses. Konja stressed the importance of addressing what he views as a common-sense issue, noting the increasing boldness of criminals and the sometimes lackluster police response to such crimes.

Recent Posts