Law Enforcement is Divided Over Prop. 47’s Implementation

By Tommy Bryant
Journalism Guild Writer

Many law enforcement personnel are resisting implementing Proposition 47, which reduced some drug felonies to misdemeanors, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

There is “a disappointing level of resistance,” the ACLU states in their report, as reported by Ben Poston in a Nov. 11 Los Angeles Times article.

“Some are making irresponsible and inaccurate statements linking Proposition 47 and crime,” the ACLU said. “Others are falsely claiming they are no longer able to arrest people for petty crimes or that a misdemeanor is not a ‘real penalty.’”

The ACLU strongly supported the California ballot proposition.

Some law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, blame a rise in crime on minor consequences for repeat offenders under Proposition 47, the Times reported.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department reported arrests for Proposition 47 offenses were down 43 percent.

Enrollments are down in drug treatment programs because a threat of a felony can no longer be used to persuade offenders to sign up, Los Angeles County authorities told Poston.

“I don’t know how they solve that problem,” said Marc Debbaudt, president of the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys.

Noticeable drops in jail population occurred after the passage of Proposition 47, but that number has since risen as county jails continue modifying early release and sentencing structures, said the ACLU.

Petty crimes are being dropped without charges at some jails, while others detain offenders, according to the ACLU study.

The jail population with misdemeanors doubled in Riverside County in March when compared to the same month a year before. During the same period San Bernardino’s misdemeanors dropped by one-quarter.

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