By Reggie Ellis @Reggie_SGN
VISALIA – Visalia is supporting a statewide initiative that would help address issues created by the passage of Propositions 47 and 57 which law enforcement agencies claim have had a negative impact on their communities.
Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar is in support of this measure and asked the City Council to adopt a resolution at its April 2 meeting. The council passed the resolution of support 5-0.
Officially known as the Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018, the initiative is being proposed by the California Police Chief’s Association for the November 2018 General Election ballot. The intent of the initiative is to correct some of the issues created by the passage of Propositions 47 and 57.
Proposition 47, a 2014 statewide initiative that reclassified many non-violent felonies to misdemeanors, and Proposition 57, a statewide initiative in 2016 that increases the number of inmates eligible for parole consideration if they were convicted of non-violent offenses, are often referred to in tandem by law enforcement agencies as tying their hands when it comes to keeping repeat offenders off the streets.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the State of California have reported direct impacts from the passage of these criminal justice reforms in their communities, primarily measured through Part 1 Crime Statistics reported to the FBI and make up the Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Part 1 Crimes include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft.
In the seven years prior to Prop. 47, Part 1 property crimes had decreased by 27%, violent crimes by 11%, and Visalia’s total crimes decreased by 23%. In the three year’s since Prop. 47, Visalia’s Part 1 property crimes have increased 16%, and total crimes have increased by 7% with a 12% decrease in violent crimes. The most significant increase came in larceny, which has increase at 20% since 2014 as well as burglary at 7%, and auto theft at 9%.
The initiative being supported by Visalia would amend several things under previous propositions. The measure would better define violent crime by expanding the list of violent crimes for which early release is not an option to include rape of an unconscious person, trafficking a child for sex, assault of a peace officer, felony domestic violence and other similar crimes that are not currently classified as “violent felonies”.
It would reinstate DNA collection for certain crimes that were reduced to misdemeanors through Prop 47. Increasing DNA collection from theft and drug crimes will help solve other violent crimes including robbery, rape and murder. Since the passage of Prop. 47, close case hits have dropped over 2,000, with more than 450 of those hits connected to violent crimes.
The measure would revise the theft threshold by adding a felony for serial theft – when a person is caught for the third time stealing with a value of $250. Theft has increased by 12% to 25%, with losses of a billion dollars since Prop. 47 was passed and the dollar threshold for theft was increased from $450 to $950. This has a direct impact on large and small businesses who have seen increases in shoplifting as a result of Prop. 47’s increase in the theft threshold and elimination of a felony charge for petty theft with priors.
It would require the Board of Parole Hearings to consider an inmate’s entire criminal history when deciding parole, not just this most recent commitment offense, and requires a mandatory hearing to determine whether parole should be revoked for any parolee who violates the terms of his parole for the third time. Public Safety now finds that parolees who repeatedly violate the terms of their parole currently face few consequences.
The initiative will also help to address the rise in larceny crimes by reinstating stiffer penalties for serial theft that were undone by Prop. 24. Additionally, it will help us to keep violent criminals out of our communities and continue violent crime reductions by expanding the definition of violent crimes that would not be eligible for early release from prison.