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MONO AND INYO COUNTY TOP LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS URGE A “NO” VOTE ON PROPOSITION 47
The Sheriffs and District Attorneys of Mono and Inyo Counties, and the Police Chiefs of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop have come together to urge voters in both counties to vote “NO” on Proposition 47. They are joined by the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, and the California District Attorneys Association in opposing Proposition 47.
Proposition 47 is misleadingly entitled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” Proponents claim that the act simply alters sentencing of low-level, non-violent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors with direct financial savings going to other state services including K-12 schools, mental health treatment, and victim services. There is nothing to show that this will make neighborhoods or schools any safer!
There are no “petty” criminals in our prison system anymore. No one in California is incarcerated for simple drug possession. Personal Possession of marijuana is an infraction in California, punishable by a fine of no more than $100. No one is incarcerated for personal possession of marijuana under California law.
Proposition 47 is not a responsible long-term solution to California’s overcrowded criminal justice system. There is nothing progressive about disincentivizing rehabilitation, reducing the penalties for the possession of predatory drugs, and downgrading the theft of a firearms valued under $950 to a misdemeanor. This poorly drafted initiative does all of these things, and opens the door for the early release of up to 10,000 felons from state prison, the majority of whom have committed serious and/or violent crimes. These are felons who could have prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, animal abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other serious crimes.
As the top law enforcement officials in Mono and Inyo Counties, we are in agreement that the effects of Proposition 47, if approved by the voters, will have a negative impact on the safety and security of our residents and visitors. Assembly Bill 109, also known as Prison Realignment, has already resulted in thousands non-serious, non-violent, non-sex felony offenders being sentenced to County jails instead of State prisons where they belong. These prisoners are filling our jails to near capacity and at some point in the not-to-distant future, sentenced prisoners will have to be released due to overcrowding. And, we are still in the early stages of the most far-reaching change in our criminal justice system in decades and have not yet seen the full impact of AB 109. Local communities do not need an additional 10,000 felons on the streets of California.
Proposition 47 will result in the following:
- Proposition 47 will eliminate automatic felony prosecution for a criminal who steals a gun. Under current law, stealing a gun is a felony. Proposition 47 would redefine grand theft in such a way that theft of a firearm could only be considered a felony if the value of the gun is greater than $950.
- The most stolen type of firearm is a handgun, and the most common firearm used in the commission of a crime is a handgun. The majority of handguns are valued less than $950. Stolen handguns are often used to commit other crimes. Proposition 47 protects criminals who steal handguns.
- Proposition 47 reduces the penalty for possession of dangerous date-rape drugs such as such as rohypnol, ketamine, and GHB to a simple misdemeanor. No matter how many times a sexual predator has been charged with possession of date-rape drugs, it will only be a misdemeanor.
- Proposition 47 reduces the punishment for theft and forgery, potentially creating a greater impact on the public and small businesses. A criminal with a prior residential burglary conviction who forges a victim’s stolen check will only be charged with a misdemeanor if the amount of the check is under $950.
- No matter how many times a criminal has been convicted of burglary, robbery, or theft, if the amount stolen in a theft is less than $950, the criminal will only be charged with a misdemeanor. And fencing that stolen property will only be a misdemeanor.
- When a career criminal steals a firearm or a suspected sexual predator possesses date rape drugs, there needs to be an option of prison time.
- When it comes to simple drug possession, California is committed to rehabilitation and treatment, not incarceration. Proposition 47 will reduce the opportunities for persons with drug addictions to seek treatment through the court system.
- California already has plenty of laws and programs that allow judges and prosecutors to keep first-time, low-level offenders out of jail if appropriate. Proposition 47 would strip judges and prosecutors of that discretion.
Contrary to its title of Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, nothing about the real life application of Proposition 47 will make neighborhoods and schools safer. To the contrary, it would put all Californians at a greater risk of being a victim of crime and remove the ability of law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts to deal with criminal on a case-by-case basis.
Ralph Obenberger Bill Lutze
Mono County Sheriff Inyo County Sheriff
Dan Watson, Chief of Police Chris Carter, Chief of Police
Mammoth Lakes Police Department Bishop Police Department
Tim Kendall Tom Hardy
Mono County District Attorney Inyo County District Attorney