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Will New Initiative Roll Back Criminal Justice Reforms?

February 10, 2020

The Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2020 seeks to undo many of the reforms of Prop 47.

Will New Initiative Roll Back Criminal Justice Reforms?

In 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, a ballot measure that significantly reformed the criminal justice system in California. Among other things, the law made some simple drug possession offenses some non-violent property crimes (where the value of the items taken does not exceed $950) into misdemeanors. 60% of Californians voted in favor of the measure.

In the five years since the law took effect, Californians have seen a number of benefits, including allowing people incarcerated on felonies to request resentencing. For example, a person who was convicted of felony drug possession could petition to have their sentence reduced based on the new law that made the charge a misdemeanor. According to a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, CA , the law also resulted in a sharp reduction in the number of people incarcerated in California — which helped to reduce the massive overcrowding in the California’s county jails and state prisons.

Yet despite all of the advantages of this law, there are critics — including the California Police Chiefs’ Association (CPCA). According to CPCA, Prop 47 has resulted in a dangerous uptick in property crimes. The President of the CPCA claims that because of the law, people will take calculators into stores with them so that they can make sure that the items that they are shoplifting add up to $950 or less. He did not provide specific information about any cases where a person charged with shoplifting had used a calculator.

CPCA is one of the backers of a new initiative, Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2020. This initiative would make a number of charges to current law, primarily with rollbacks to the reforms of Prop 47. If it became law, it would:

  • Reclassify certain non-violent crimes as violent to prevent the early release of inmates who have been convicted of those crimes;
  • Expand the collection of DNA from people convicted of crimes, which would allow for DNA to be collected for certain misdemeanor crimes;
  • Change the theft laws to make it easier for prosecutors to charge people accused of these crimes with felonies rather than misdemeanors;
  • Give victims notice of inmates’ release and the right to submit a confidential statement to the Board of Parole Hearings;
  • Require the Board of Parole Hearings to consider an individual’s entire criminal history, not just the most recent offense for which they have been incarcerated; and
  • Requires a mandatory parole revocation hearing for any parole who has violated parole 3 times.

These changes would return California to an era of unnecessarily punitive criminal justice measures. It would likely result in a greater rate of incarceration for individuals accused of non-violent crimes in California. This initiative will be on the ballot for California voters in November 2020.

If you have been charged with a crime, you will need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, CA to represent you. At the Chambers Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping people who have been charged with a range of offenses — including those covered by Prop 47. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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