Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Prop 47 - Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act- how capitalism played out to save some dollars but resulted in making neighborhoods more unsafe!!

Proposition 47, also known by its ballot title Criminal Sentences. Misdemeanor Penalties. Initiative Statute, was a referendum passed by voters in the state of California on November 4, 2014. The measure was also referred to by its supporters as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.[2] It recategorized some nonviolent offenses as misdemeanors, rather than felonies, as they had previously been categorized.

What a brilliant way to name a Prop to get votes! Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act- I am sure the name would make most common citizens to vote Yes on it! Who doesn't want neighborhood and schools to be safe? The bill was proposed to reduce overcrowding of prisons by converting many nonviolent offenses, such as drug and property offenses, from felonies to misdemeanors. This included shoplifting, writing bad checks, and drug possession. The measure made offenses involving less than $950 as misdemeanor. The measure probably helped California state save 100 million plus dollars. So far so good, right? Not really.

1) Have you recently noticed that most cities and neighborhoods in California are having more and more bad incidents? Let me warn you that if you read news about crime statistics and if that made you believe that the crime is going down in your town, think twice! What was a felony earlier, it is only a misdemeanor now! All frauds, shop-liftings, stealing, robberies that are for amount less than $950 are no more a felony! This would not get reflected in crime/arrest statistics now ;)

2) I heard two police/detectives speak in a meeting. They said that due to Prop 47, 'crimes' have actually gone up! There are many incidents of minor stealing, car break-ins, thefts and robbery and they are done by repeat offenders. Most of them know that the police can't do much if the amount is less than $950! They know that it is not going to result in to an arrest or prison now. Many times, there are criminals who would laugh at police. Once police gives them a ticket (that is all they can do for crimes involving less than $950!), they are on to a next crime.

As per the Washington Post: .....police departments and prosecutors refer to as the “unintended effects”: Robberies up 23 percent in San Francisco. Property theft up 11 percent in Los Angeles. Certain categories of crime rising 20 percent in Lake Tahoe, 36 percent in La Mirada, 22 percent in Chico and 68percent in Desert Hot Springs.

Well, I was writing this and stubled upon this post by Washington Post.. Why not read the post yourself?
It’s too early to know how much crime can be attributed to Prop 47, police chiefs caution, but what they do know is that instead of arresting criminals and removing them from the streets, their officers have been dealing with the same offenders again and again. Caught in possession of drugs? That usually means a misdemeanor citation under Prop 47, or essentially a ticket. Caught stealing something worth less than $950? That means a ticket, too. Caught using some of that $950 to buy more drugs? Another citation.
“It’s a slap on the wrist the first time and the third time and the 30th time, so it’s a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card,” said Shelley Zimmerman, who became San Diego’s police chief in March 2014. “We’re catching and releasing the same people over and over.”
Officers have begun calling those people “frequent fliers,” offenders who knew the specifics of Prop 47 and how to use it to their advantage. There was the thief in San Bernardino County who had been caught shoplifting with his calculator, which he said he used to make sure he never stole the equivalent of $950 or more. There was the “Hoover Heister” in Riverside, who was arrested for stealing vacuum cleaners and other appliances 13 different times over the course of three months, each misdemeanor charge followed by his quick release.
There was also the known gang member near Palm Springs who had been caught with a stolen gun valued at $625 and then reacted incredulously when the arresting officer explained that he would not be taken to jail but instead written a citation. “But I had a gun. What is wrong with this country?” the offender said, according to the police report.
And then, in San Diego, there was Rabenberg, who just weeks after being released because of Prop 47 was caught breaking the law again.
He was arrested for possession of meth on Jan. 2 and released from jail Jan. 3.
He was arrested for having drug paraphernalia on Feb. 6 and issued a citation.
He was arrested again for having drugs on Feb. 19. And then again on March 1. And then again on March 8. And then again on April 1.
By April 26, he had been arrested for six misdemeanors in less than four months and been released all six times, so he was free to occupy a table outside Starbucks when a man named Kevin Zempko arrived to have coffee with his wife. Zempko sat at a table next to Rabenberg, who was picking apart the seams of his coat and dumping the contents of his pockets onto the table: some nickels, two $1 bills, a few scraps of paper, a dingy plastic cup and a lighter. Zempko watched for a few seconds and concluded that Rabenberg was probably a vagrant and an addict. “I just felt bad for him,” he said.
Rabenberg noticed Zempko looking his way and began to stare back, mumbling, gesturing, standing up and now pulling something new from the pocket of his coat. It was a small wooden steak knife. Rabenberg slammed it down on the table. He picked it up again, jabbed at the air and started moving with the knife toward Zempko, who stood up and placed a chair between them.
Zempko had been in the Marine Corps for 11 years, trained to recognize a threat, and he escaped into the Starbucks and warned other customers. The manager called the police. Another Starbucks employee tried to pacify Rabenberg with a free cup of coffee. By the time two police officers arrived, Rabenberg seemed mostly confused and tired. “Disoriented” was how a police report described him. The officers handcuffed Rabenberg and placed him in the back of their police car.
“What will happen to him?” Zempko asked, because now the threat had passed and what he felt most was concern for Rabenberg, even guilt.
“He needs help,” Zempko told the officers, and they asked for his phone number and said they would call as part of their investigation. For a few days, Zempko waited and wondered: If they asked him to testify, would he push for leniency or a strict sentence? Which would be better for the city? Which would be better for Rabenberg?
But the police never called. The arrest had been for possession of drugs and brandishing a deadly weapon — both misdemeanors. Rabenberg was booked into jail and released three days later.

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