Guest Column: Opposed to CA Proposition 47
As your Nevada County public safety leaders, we emphatically express our opposition of Proposition 47, which has qualified for the November 4, 2014 Statewide General Election.
The law enforcement community and crime victim advocates strongly oppose Proposition 47, misleadingly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and School Act.” The proponents of Proposition 47 claim the act simply alters sentencing of low-level nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors with direct financial savings going to other state services including the K-12 schools, mental health treatment, and victim services.
These claims are false. There is nothing progressive about reducing the penalties for the possession of illicit drugs, including drugs used to facilitate date-rape, and downgrading the theft of a firearm to a misdemeanor. Proposition 47 is not a responsible long-term solution to California’s overcrowded criminal justice system.
This poorly drafted initiative will open the doors for the early release of up to 10,000 felons from state prison. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other serious crimes will be eligible for early release under Proposition 47. Locally, Proposition 47 may further burden our local criminal justice systems by shifting responsibility for additional categories of offenders to already overcrowded county jails. This measure would in no way benefit our local community or California as a whole.
Under Proposition 47, sexual predators in possession of date-rape drugs would only face misdemeanor charges regardless of how many times an individual is caught with date-rape drugs. All drug possession cases, such as possession of heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines, would be reduced to straight misdemeanors.
Currently, 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. Almost all handguns (which are the most stolen kind of firearm) retail for well below $950. People steal guns to commit crimes and under Proposition 47 the criminals are protected. This shortcoming would effectively deteriorate years of California policymaking aimed at reducing gun violence.
In conclusion, we would like to reiterate that law enforcement leaders and crime victim advocates overwhelmingly oppose Proposition 47 and agree that it rewrites our laws to benefit criminals. This proposition is nothing more than a lengthy piece of special-interest legislation that will cause irrevocable harm and will have a detrimental impact on California.
We urge all California voters to take a stand by voting NO on Proposition 47. This is your chance to show that we refuse to reward criminal activity. We are confident that you will make the right decision for our community. Thank you for your time and attention regarding this landmark issue.
Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal; Nevada County District Attorney Clifford Newell; Nevada County Chief Probation Officer Michael Ertola; Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill; Grass Valley Police Department Chief John Foster; and Nevada City Police Department Chief Tim Foley.