A number of sources have responded to Proposition 47 critics’ claims that reducing certain non-violent, non-serious offenses from felonies to misdemeanors is to blame for California’s 2015 increase in urban crime, The Washington Post reported.
Since it passed, critics of the initiative have abundantly tried to blame Proposition 47 for a rise in crime. However, former San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne told the Sacramento Bee, “There’s no data proving such a link.”
Two professors of criminology, law and society in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California at Irvine and a professor from Stanford Law School told the Post, “No such crime wave is likely to occur.”
Results from the study out of UC Irvine suggest the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014 “has had no effect on violent crimes, including homicide, rape, aggravated assault and robbery,” The Orange Country Register said.
When disputing this assumption, Charles E. Kubrin, Carroll Seron and Joan Petersilia told the Post, “California’s decision to cede authority over low-level offenders to its counties has been, for the most part, remarkably effective public policy and an extraordinarily rich case study in governance.”
Mike Males, Ph.D., senior research fellow at the Center of Juvenile and Criminal Justice, wrote in a research report, “If the reduction in local jail populations after Proposition 47 passed in November 2014, was responsible for the urban crime increase in early 2015, as some sources are arguing, then cities in counties with the largest reductions in jail populations in 2015 would show the biggest increases in crime; however, the data suggest this is not the case.”
A nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trusts study “found that raising the felony threshold has no impact on property crime or larceny rates. It also showed that states that increased their thresholds saw crime drop about the same amount as the 27 states that did not change their theft laws.” The threshold amount has no bearing on property crime and larceny rates.
Harsher penalties cost taxpayers a bundle to build and maintain prisons. “They do not automatically cut crime, just as lighter penalties don’t automatically invite more crime. Offenders act for a wide variety of reasons, and whether they might be convicted of a felony than a misdemeanor isn’t a large part of their thinking,” the Bee reported.
“In California, these latest results should help put the lie to flimsy claims that Proposition 47 has emboldened criminals and endangered the rest of us.
Remember, the same dire predictions of a crime surge accompanied the state’s 2011 adoption of realignment, which shifted responsibility for tens of thousand of felons from the state to the counties. And a similar chorus of warnings rang out when voters softened the state’s Three-Strike laws in 2012,” Lansdowne said.
“No such crime wave is likely to occur”
The Post reported the counties that invested in offender re-entry in the aftermath of realignment had better performances in terms of recidivism than counties that focused resources on enforcement.
“As other states and the federal government contemplate their own proposals for prison downsizing, they should take a close look at what these California counties are doing right,” the three professors concluded.
–Charles David Henry