By Michele Hanisee
Just released FBI statistics for 2015 document that as in 2014, following the passage of Prop 47, California suffered a significant rise in the property crime rate. By contrast, the rest of the nation saw the property crime rate fall in both 2014 and 2015. Thanks to Prop 47, California continues to stack failure when it comes to the property crime rate while the rest of the nation enjoys 13 straight years of decreasing property crime rates.
Prop 47 was a bill of goods sold to voters as an enhancement of public safety and was specifically aimed at reducing punishment for property and drug crimes. A large number of felony theft offenses were made inconsequential misdemeanors with no threat of arrest, conviction or incarceration. As we have documented in prior blogs, thieves in California have been emboldened by Prop 47 to commit theft and then refuse to appear in court when caught and cited. Tens of thousands of Californians have become victims of crime, thanks to this terrible initiative.
The increase in the 2015 property crime rate over 2014 in California was substantial and across all areas of the state as measured in the FBI metropolitan statistical areas. Here in Los Angeles/Long Beach/Glendale, the property crime rate increased by 9.72%. Examples from both northern and southern California tell the same story of a rising property crime rate. Anaheim/Santa Ana/Irvine saw property crime rate increase by a staggering 23.88%; in Francisco/Redwood City/South San Francisco the property crime rate soared by 13.99%, and in San Diego/Carlsbad the rate jumped 5.99%.
Keep in mind these increases are stacked atop the increase in the property crime rate across California in 2014, a year the rest of the nation saw property crime rates fall 5%. After the release of the 2014 statistics, the Prop 47 apologists claimed that nothing could be garnered from a single statistical year. The 2015 statistics, with the rest of the nation again seeing a drop in property crime rates, demolish that argument.
As it has become clear that Prop 47 has driven the rise in property crime rates across California, Prop 47 proponents have resorted to inventing bogus benchmarks in attempts to hide its impact. For example, as detailed in an article by Susan Abram, the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice claimed last week that California counties reporting large jail decreases did not see greater increases in crime than those California jurisdictions that did not release prisoners. That is akin to that saying that after several boats capsized, everybody on the one boat drowned at the same rate-never mind those in the other boats made it safely to shore. The figures on crime that tell the true story are published by the FBI and the California Attorney General, and both show increases in crime.
Realizing this rather a futile smokescreen attempt failed to explain the post-Prop 47 crime wave, the study’s author resorted to the forlorn claim that with the passage of Prop 47 the “voters have spoken.” Actually, the voters didn’t speak; they were fooled by slick propaganda of Prop 47 proponents. Voters were told Prop 47 would save money, that criminals would flock to drug treatment, and that public safety would be enhanced by not incarcerating thieves. Instead, the promised “savings” from Prop 47 failed to appear but residents and businesses have borne the heavy costs that come from increased crime, drug courts have collapsed across the state as defendants are no longer forced to attend and complete drug rehabilitation, and for the second year in the row Californians are less safe than fellow residents nationwide.
Of course, Prop 47 is only the warm-up act for a public safety disaster in California. As we have repeatedly blogged, Prop 57 – A “Criminal’s Bill of Rights” is on the November ballot. It will allow early release via parole of tens of thousands of dangerous California state prison inmates serving lengthy prison sentences due to the harm their crime caused, weapons they used, or their serious and violent prior criminal records. It will also accelerate the release of all other prison inmates by allowing the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation to invent sentence credits and decrease time to be served.
The old saying goes “Fool me once, shame on you-fool me twice, shame on me.” With FBI statistics documenting the public safety disaster that is Prop 47, it remains to be seen if voters will take this adage to heart as they contemplate the next public safety disaster known as Prop 57.
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Michele Hanisee is President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, the collective bargaining agent representing nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.