Commentary: Prop 47 Reform Effort Boosted by Golden State Killer Story

by Placerville Newswire / May 02, 2018 / comments

[Joel Fox]

The proposed initiative to change aspects of Proposition 47 that many in law enforcement say has led to increased crime in California is sure to get a boost from the capture of the alleged Golden State Killer and an arrest report issued by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office. Changes in the collection of DNA requirements under the initiative will gain attention after the DNA led to the arrest of Joseph DeAngelo. Eye-opening numbers in the sheriff’s report tell a compelling story about the effects of Prop 47.

One change in the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018” initiative would expand DNA collection from persons convicted of drug, theft and domestic violence related crimes to help solve violent crimes. Golden State Killer task force officials have said that it was DNA that connected the crimes that they allege were carried out by DeAngelo. The wide spread attention this arrest has garnered will highlight the effectiveness of DNA collection in crime solving.

The LA sheriff’s report noted that between the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014 and the end of 2017, 78,537 people have been arrested in Los Angeles County for theft or drug offenses now declared misdemeanors under Prop 47. After the initial arrests more than 32,000 of those individuals were rearrested at least two times since they basically paid no penalty for the original arrest. According to a news release from the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, “many of those subsequent arrests are for serious crimes — more than 25,000 of the repeat offenders were arrested for Part I crimes, defined as homicide, robbery, arson, rape, burglary, grand theft auto, or larceny over $950.”

It is not only in Los Angeles that crime is up. In January, San Francisco’s police chief noted property crime jumped 24% from 2016 to 2017.

Under Proposition 47, property thefts, forgeries, frauds, illegal drug use, and more under $950 are labeled a consequence-free crime because few arrested for such crimes serve any time, and perpetrators are aware of the nearly penalty free circumstances.

The reform effort is intended to reform the parole system so violent felons are not released from prison early, to strengthen theft laws that deal with serial thieves and organized theft rings, and to expand DNA collection of convicted criminals.

The initiative is moving toward qualification. However, at a $1.00 per signature it is the lowest paying measure on the street, which often means professional signature gatherers produce it only after presenting more profitable (for them) measures to voters.

Still, the issue of crime is rising in the public consciousness as I reported last year. The dramatic arrest of the alleged Golden State Killer, also known as the East Area Rapist, and the data compiled in LA County and elsewhere will only strengthen the argument in support of the Prop 47 reform initiative.

Originally posted at Fox & Hounds Daily.