The Prop 47 fallout continues — decreased arrests, plunging conviction rates, and light sentences

By Marc Debbaudt

The Prop 47 fallout continues-decreased arrests, plunging conviction rates, and light sentences Can we say “no surprise?”  Not only has the crime rate in California soared since the passage of Prop 47, but other aspects of its devastating effect on public safety continue to be revealed.

recent report studying many large counties, including Los Angeles, concluded conviction rates have dropped by a staggering 45%.  Of course, this isn’t the least bit surprising. When you don’t arrest criminal offenders, you won’t be able to convict them. Speaking of those arrest rates concerning offenses which had been reduced to misdemeanors by Prop 47, the study found a 31% drop in bookings for property crime offenses and a 68% reduction for drug offenses.  The few who were convicted of these now reduced crimes served substantially less time than what they would have served prior to Prop 47.

While the study claimed “savings” of $20-130 million (a huge range) from Prop 47, the study ignored the cost of increased crime as a result of Prop 47. It cost Los Angeles County $250 million in just the first six months of Prop 47, and that number represents only one county in a state with a soaring property crime rate.  It’s far past the time that the proponents claiming huge “savings” finally acknowledge the enormous human cost of the increased crime rates of their failed experiment on citizens and businesses across this state.

The excuses by proponents of Prop 47 grow increasingly and tragically comical as the true toll of Prop 47 continues to be revealed. For example, lead proponent San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón dismissed the increased crime rate, stating the crime rate was already increasing in San Francisco before Prop 47 passed!  How does this make sense?

Certainly, in fact, the crime rate was increasing in San Francisco pre- Prop 47.  One reason for that increase in crime was Gascón’s own prosecution policies during those years, which were essentially his early experimental version of Prop 47. Even with his policies leading to what he acknowledges was a rising crime rate, Gascón was a principal proponent of Prop 47. The result – San Francisco had to the #1 ranking for the highest percentage increase in property crime rate from January-June, 2015, that is, right after Prop 47’s passage.

While the supporters of Prop 47 like Gascón continue to delude themselves and seek to delude the public with fantasies of drug addicted offenders who suddenly decide to flock to treatment and abandon their criminal ways, the innocent public continues to suffer.  As the crime numbers increase, their transparently hollow excuses for why there is no link between Prop 47 and the increased rate will become even more empty and desperate.  However, I choose to believe that at some point the public will say “enough!”

For factual information, please read my previous blogs that details the various problems with Prop. 47 (1)  An explosion of California property crimes – due to Prop. 47 (2) Legislature should fix the Harmful Repercussions Created by Prop 47 (3) Public and Private Deception of Prop 47 (4) California’s Proposition 47 – The LA Times Cost Savings Myth(5) Proposition 47 lottery: When will your crime victim number be called? (6) Reaping the Bitter Rewards of Proposition 47 and related blogs (7) Punishment, Not Programs (8) What Realignment Has Done to Restitution Collection and How It Can Be Fixed and (9) Why are victims playing second fiddle to convicted criminals?

Marc Debbaudt is the immediate past president and president emeritus of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys, which represents nearly 1,000 Los Angeles deputy district attorneys. Email:mdebbaudt@laadda.com.