As NBC reported in February, “San Francisco’s nearly 30,000 car break-ins last year shattered previous crime records,” a veritable “epidemic.” Of the nearly 30,000 car break-ins the police department made arrests in just 1.7 percent of cases, totaling 790 arrests and “of those taken into custody, most were never sentenced to jail time.” That is due to Proposition 47, the 2014 measure that, as the Associated Press reports, “lowered sentences for drug possession, theft, shoplifting, identity theft, receiving stolen property, writing bad checks and check forgery from felonies that can bring prison terms to misdemeanors that often bring minimal jail sentences.” Or as NBC noted, no jail time at all. The measure’s implicit message is “do the crime, don’t do the time.”
As crime continues to surge, along comes The Impact of Proposition 47 on Crime and Recidivism, from the Public Policy Institute of California, by Mia Bird, Magnus Loftstrom, Brandon Martin, Steven Raphael and Viet Nguyen. The authors “find no evidence that violent crime increased as a result of Proposition 47” despite an “uptick” that preceded the measure and that was “due in large part to unrelated changes in crime reporting after 2014.”
The authors find “some evidence that Proposition 47 affected property crime,” a bogus designation. Those 30,000 cars broken into in San Francisco were all owned by people, and it was people that had their identity stolen and their names used to forge checks. So these were all crimes against people, not property. Crime victims have little reason to take this study seriously but Proposition 47 is hardly the only offensive campaign from the state’s burgeoning criminals’ lobby.
Proposition 57, California’s 2016 Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act, expanded parole possibilities for nonviolent offenders and was supposed to reduce the prison population and save taxpayers money. Instead, it burns up more taxpayer dollars and gives some of the worst violent offenders a shot at early release. Those include convicted double murderer Daniel Marsh, now serving 52 years to life. As Yolo County explains, “Due to Prop 57 his conviction was conditionally reversed. If the judge determines that he is suitable for juvenile court, he could only be detained until he reaches the age of 25.” Like PPIC’s beloved Proposition 47, this measure is a waste of taxpayer dollars and utterly callous to victims of violent crime.
K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute.