Opponents Say They Have Signatures for Referendum to Amend California’s Proposition 47

Gavin Newsom
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Opponents of Proposition 47, the 2014 California ballot initiative that reduced criminal penalties in an attempt at reforming the justice system, said Thursday they have collected enough signatures for a referendum to amend it.

Prop 47 coincided with a rise in crime in many cities across the state, and many local law enforcement officials began to blame it for the surge as long ago as 2015. The referendum reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, and — most notoriously — raised the minimum value for felony theft to $950 worth of goods. That, critics say, encouraged a wave of shoplifting in major cities, as thieves knew there would be no serious consequences for thefts of lesser value.

Democrats have denied that Prop 47 has been responsible for the crime surge. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recently proposed a package of legislative reforms aimed at reducing property crimes, but he notably left Prop 47 intact.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Thursday that an activist group, Californians for Safer Communities, had claimed enough signatures to qualify their “Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act” for the November 2024 ballot.

The Mercury News reported:

Backers including owners of small businesses, social justice leaders and drug victim families gathered in San Francisco and Los Angeles to announce they have collected about 900,000 voter signatures, significantly more than the 546,651 required by April 23, and are turning them in to the Attorney General’s Office.

The impact on crime of Prop 47 continues to be furiously debated. The Public Policy Institute of California linked Prop 47 to some theft increases in 2018, and in a subsequent report found commercial shoplifting rose 28.7% from the unusually low rates of the pandemic years.

Supporters stress that the proposed initiative would amend but not repeal Prop 47. It would make a third conviction for retail theft a felony, regardless of the amount stolen. Before Prop 47, a second conviction would become a felony, but the 2014 initiative eliminated consequences for repeat offenses. The proposed measure also would add penalties for dealing fentanyl, a cheap and deadly synthetic opioid, and provide incentives for convicted addicts to seek treatment.

Newsom, who has backed radical prosecutors across the state, such as L.A. District Attorney George Gascón, recently expressed shock when a retail clerk at Target blamed him for the shoplifting surge.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

Authored by Joel B. Pollak via Breitbart April 18th 2024