The Los Angeles Police Protective League posted a message on their blog site urging California voters to reject Proposition 47, joining with other state law enforcement organizations, such as the California State Sheriff’s Association, in opposition to the ballot initiative voters will decide on tomorrow, November 4.
The LAPPL, whose stated mission is to “vigilantly protect, promote, and improve the working conditions, legal rights, compensation and benefits of Los Angeles Police Officers”, issued a statement on Friday titled “Prop 47 jeopardizes public safety”.
Authored by the LAPPL Board of Directors, the post begins by asking “What if we told you that you had the opportunity to release thousands of dangerous inmates with serious criminal records back to your community? Would you do it? Would you risk the safety of your family and community by allowing felons back onto your streets?” They follow up stating that that would be the effect of Proposition 47.
The ballot measure, also called by supporters the “Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act”, would reduce many current felonies to misdemeanor level offenses. The crimes of shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing a bad check, all for amounts or values under $950.00, along with personal drug use, would become misdemeanors. Offenders with prior convictions for murder, rape, sex crimes and gun crimes would still be treated as felons, however, for these new incidents. The savings from incarceration as a result of the potential for fewer people jailed would be directed to a fund for education, victim compensation, and the Board of State and Community Corrections for mental health and drug treatment programs.
However, the LAPPL states that felons convicted of armed robbery, child abuse, burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon and other crimes may be eligible for early release specifically under this potential law. They state that the initiative would handcuff judges from preventing such early releases of convicted felons except under “rare exceptions”, defined as unreasonable risk of danger to public safety. They say that definition is too vague and ambiguous. They also express concern that automatically changing serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors will lead to a “hollow law enforcement system and criminal justice system.”
The article also says that supporters calling the measure the “Safer neighborhoods and schools act” is perplexing and deceptive. They ask how neighborhoods and schools will be safer by allowing serious criminals into the community with no more than a slap on the wrist.
They conclude by stating that “Prop 47 DOES NOT put public safety first and we’re not the only ones who have concerns. For more information, read the articles below.:
Dianne Feinstein- California Senator : “Danger from Prop. 47 is that it will result in the resentencing—and often outright release—of thousands of California convicts.”
Sacramento Bee Editorial Board: “If voters approve Proposition 47, about 40,000 offenders a year would be affected, facing misdemeanors rather than felonies.”
Sandra Hutchens- Sheriff, OC Sheriff’s Department: “Prop. 47 is a bad idea. It will result in more crime, new victims, and less safety. Safe Schools and Neighborhoods Act? I’m not buying it.”
Bill Brown- Sheriff, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department & Joyce Dudley- District Attorney, Santa Barbara County: “Reducing the penalties for gun theft, possession of date rape drugs, agricultural crime and other serious offenses will expose our communities to increased criminality.”
Los Angeles Daily News Opinion: “Also worrisome is that Proposition 47 allows no extra penalty for repeat offenders. What about someone who forges 10 checks for $500 each over the years? This proposition doesn’t deal with that. And for poor communities, where a few dollars matter, that is huge.”
Greg Munks- Sheriff, San Mateo County & Steve Wagstaffe- District Attorney, San Mateo County: “Proposition 47 inappropriately takes away the discretion of the district attorney to determine whether criminals with serious and violent records should be prosecuted as felons when they commit certain crimes against victims in our community. This is bad public policy and should be rejected.”
George Skelton – Los Angeles Times: “Proposition 47, which would reduce drug and theft penalties, is a bill that shouldn’t be on the state ballot… The thief who steals a $200 bracelet from a mom-and-pop jewelry in Boyle Heights gets a slap on the wrist. But walk off with a $2,000 necklace from a Beverly Hills shop and it’s a felony. Doesn’t click.”