When Prop 47 was passed by California voters in 2014, many heralded the reform measure as a big step in reducing mass-incarceration by lessening the punishments doled out for property and drug offenses.
Now that crime has been steadily on the rise in the Golden State, some are rethinking that strategy.
The law changed many simple drug possession cases and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, a move that purged many individuals from the local jail system. As the theory goes, many of the criminals that would have otherwise been incarcerated for their crimes are instead left on the streets where they often continue to engage in criminal behavior.
It has been reported that violent crime is up 20 percent in Los Angeles, robbery up 23 percent in San Francisco, and homicides in Sacramento up 23 percent.
Sergeant Tasha Descosta of the Hayward Police Department said, "In the past year and a half, we've seen an increase in theft-related crimes, including robbery, burglary, and identity theft."
Others defend the measure, however, citing the financial savings to the state, a number in excess of $83 million according to a recent analysis.
Where differences of opinion exist is often in how one interprets "success."
El Cerrito Police Chief Sylvia Moir emphasized that point by stating, "Proposition 47 is working if the only thing we're measuring is how many people are incarcerated. Like how many empty jail beds. Thousands fewer people in our state prisons -- it's working. But if you say, 'is Prop 47 working for communities,' I would say no, it is not.'"
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