Bid for crime ballot measure gains support

Signatures roll in for a vote to crack down on some offenses in an overhaul of Prop. 47.

SACRAMENTO — A coalition backing a tough-on-crime statewide ballot initiative to toughen penalties for retail theft and some drug offenses submitted more than 900,000 voter signatures on Thursday backing the measure, a strong indicator that it may come before California voters in November.

The ballot initiative, called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act, seeks to change Proposition 47, which voters passed in 2014. It would toughen penalties for retail theft and require drug treatment for those charged with simple drug possession. It was largely funded by corporate retailers including Target and Home Depot.

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The Californians for Safer Communities Coalition, the proponent of the ballot initiative, raised close to $8 million for the campaign . The secretary of state requires at least 546,651 signatures be collected by April 23 to qualify for the November ballot.

County elections officials will now start the process of verifying the petition signatures to ensure they were provided by registered California voters.

The coalition said in a statement that California can no longer afford “half-measures” when it comes to addressing rampant retail theft or the growing epidemic of fentanyl overdoses.

Political strategist Gale Kaufman, who is not affiliated with the ballot measure, said that collecting well over the required amount is more of a strategy rather than being indicative of widespread support.

“You probably need [to collect] somewhere in the 750,000 or 800,000 range to make sure you’re good,” said Kaufman.

Paul Mitchell, the vice president of Political Data Inc., said that the ability to collect such a large number of signatures in a state as vast as California “is a sign of having the money to pay for the signature gathering,” he added. “It’s not a sign of voter support.”

The proposed ballot measure comes in an election year in which crime and homelessness are expected to be top issues, both nationally and in state and local races, and could increase voter turnout among Californians concerned about public safety.

The initiative, which seeks to reform housing, drugs and theft all in one, touches on some of the top issues California voters said they care most about this year.

Voters rejected an effort to alter Proposition 47 in 2020 that would have enacted tougher criminal sentences and reduced the number of inmates eligible for parole. Kaufman cautioned that voters tend to forget what they voted on and it doesn’t necessarily foreshadow the outcome of the new measure.

Proponents of the reform, including Derreck Johnson, owner of Home of Chicken & Waffles in Oakland, echoed concerns at a news conference Thursday about the uptick in crimes in his area and the fears of businesses closing as a result.

Johnson said sales have dropped by 30% since March 2023, when he observed frequent “bipping” — a term for auto burglaries — in his neighborhood.

“Our customers are mostly tourists and leave their luggage in the car,” he told The Times. “The leadership in Oakland needs to start doing their job. Our job is just to put chicken and waffles on your plate.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

‘Fix Prop 47’ Initiative Receives Over 900,000 Signatures – Qualifies for November Ballot

‘Ever since the 2020 election, there has been an overall backlash on progressive policies in California’

(Photo: Dan Henson/Shuttertock)


A signature collection drive to qualify a ballot initiative to amend Proposition 47 ended on Thursday, qualifying The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act for the November ballot. Californians for Safer Communities Coalition announced that more than 900,000 signatures of the needed 546,651 were collected, and submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Passed in 2014 with a 59.6% 40.4% result,  Prop. 47 recategorized some nonviolent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. These crimes included, up to an amount of $950, shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, and fraud. In addition, most drug use offenses were made misdemeanors as well. While the measure was promoted as a way to reduce crowding in prisons and reallocate money for alternate to prison ways to prevent crime, crime rates soon exploded across the state. Criminals became savvy when shoplifting, making sure not to go above the $950 amount, with some even carrying calculators in stores to make sure they didn’t go over the felony limit.

Law enforcement agencies, even those in liberal areas, denounced the proposition. By 2016, retailers were reporting a 15% to 50% rise in shoplifting across the board. High crime rates continued on into the 2020’s, with Prop 47’s “get out of jail free card” reputation exacerbating related problems in cities such as San Francisco.

Lawmakers from both parties flooded the legislature with bills in an attempt to reign in Prop 47 over the years, including a reset bill in 2022 that would have lowered the felony amount from $950 to $400. However, liberal lawmakers, wanting to show that it could work on the long term, refused to make any alterations to it. An attempt at the ballot box was also made in 2020, with Prop. 20, hoping to toughen sentencing in criminal cases, lower the felony amount to $250, and reduce the number of prison inmates eligible for early parole. However, because of the George Floyd protests still a recent memory for many voters, Prop. 20 was crushed that November 61.7% to only 38.3% in favor.

This led the Californians for Safer Communities Coalition to begin a new proposition initiative in late 2023. The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act was largely funded by small business owners and large retailers alike, all of whom were sick of the continuing losses in the state and having to pull out of some areas as a result.

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According to the initiative, it would do three things:

  1. The measure would hold repeat offenders accountable for the safety of our communities, rather than putting them back on the streets.
  2. The measure would define fentanyl as a hard drug, hold individuals convicted of trafficking fentanyl accountable, and grant judges greater discretion in sentencing drug traffickers.
  3. The measure would provide critical mental health, drug treatment services, and job training within the justice system for people who are homeless and suffering from mental illness or struggling with substance abuse.

Support for, opposition against Prop 47

While some other controversial parts of Prop. 47, such as the felony amount, would not be touched in the initiative, supporters said that this proposition would be a start and would be most palatable to Californian voters as a whole.

“We’re here from both sides because Prop 47 simply isn’t working as intended,” said Yolo County DA Jeff Reisig a few months ago. “We’ve seen the retail theft crisis spiral out of control and fentanyl is a crisis fueling the highest death rate we’ve ever seen. This is a commonsense fix to have some accountability again. It’s very balanced, very humane, and focused on treatment.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Assembly Democrats Trying to Commandeer ‘Fix 47’ Ballot Initiative

How dangerous and disgusting does California have to get before Democrats will repeal Prop. 47?

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Insanity is also knowing that Democrats created a statewide crisis and allowing them to claim they can fix it.

It’s also stupid.

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State Democrats are disturbed right now that the proposed ballot initiative to amend Proposition 47 will qualify for the November 2024 ballot.

Assembly Democrats are attempting to commandeer the initiative. “Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) on Tuesday threw his weight behind a package of bills that aim to thwart theft by, among other proposals, allowing restraining orders to keep people who steal away from certain stores and letting prosecutors aggregate the value of thefts across multiple incidents in determining criminal charges,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“There’s no turning back the clock on the criminal justice reforms that have been enacted,” Rivas said Tuesday during a news conference at the Capitol. “It’s understanding the root causes of this problem, which is complex. And for us, each one of these bills gets after those layers of complexity.”

Speaker Rivas should understand “the root causes of this problem” since his party and radical leftists ushered in Proposition 47, which has provided the state ten years of increased drug and serial theft crimes, taking its toll on the state’s residents and businesses. Because of Proposition 47, there is no accountability when it comes to these crimes, theft is underreported and some stores are even told not to report theft crimes.

Despite overwhelming evidence of rampant crime throughout the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom has continually praised Proposition 47, Proposition 57 and AB 109 (prison realignment), claiming they all helped reduce crime in the state.

Yet, California leads the nation in fentanyl deaths, homelessness and retail theft thanks to Proposition 47.

Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig posted this recently on X/Twitter:

There have been numerous attempts to repeal and/or reverse Proposition 47. Republican Assemblymen Kevin Kiley, James Gallagher, and Jim Patterson authored Assembly Bill 1599 to repeal Proposition 47, in early January 2022. AB 1599 would have more substantially eliminated Prop 47, repealing all changes and additions made by the initiative, except those related to reducing the penalty for possession of concentrated cannabis, the Globe reported. The bill sat untouched, assigned to no hearings, even as crime raged in the state during January and February 2022. However, 7 weeks after its introduction, AB 1599 was finally assigned a hearing in the Assembly Public Safety Committee – and killed.

The current initiative collecting signatures, The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act, specifically goes after serial thieves and drug crimes, and would elevate the third time someone commits retail theft to a felony charge.

Democrats have eviscerated California’s landmark “Three Strikes” law, passed in 1994. The Legislative Analyst’s Office explains:

In 1994, California legislators and voters approved a major change in the state’s criminal sentencing law, (commonly known as Three Strikes and You’re Out). The law was enacted as Chapter 12, Statutes of 1994 (AB 971, Jones) by the Legislature and by the electorate in Proposition 184. As its name suggests, the law requires, among other things, a minimum sentence of 25 years to life for three-time repeat offenders with multiple prior serious or violent felony convictions. The Legislature and voters passed the Three Strikes law after several high profile murders committed by ex-felons raised concern that violent offenders were being released from prison only to commit new, often serious and violent, crimes in the community.

However, according to the LATimes, “Rivas dismissed proposals that would require changing Proposition 47, sending The Times a statement saying that ‘going to the ballot to address retail crime or theft is not necessary, because the Assembly’s bipartisan and comprehensive plan delivers real and urgent changes for Californians.’”

Yeah, right. Be wary when Democrats claim something they are pushing is “bipartisan” and “comprehensive.” Notably, the ballot initiative actually is bipartisan.

Proposition 47, was passed by tragically misinformed voters in 2014, and flagrantly titled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” by then Attorney General Kamala Harris, which reduced a host of serious felonies to misdemeanors, including drug crimes, date rape, and all thefts under $950, even for repeat offenders who steal every day.

Prop. 47 also decriminalized drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, removed law enforcement’s ability to make an arrest in most circumstances, as well as removing judges’ ability to order drug rehabilitation programs rather than incarceration.

The commensurate escalation of crime throughout California is stunning, and especially serial theft. There is no coincidence that during this same time period, the exponential escalation of homeless vagrants and drug addicts on the streets occurred.

“The Assembly bill package has support from progressive groups that back California’s criminal justice reforms,” which tells you that some of the bills aren’t worth a damn or don’t go far enough. It is also notable that Democrats have had 10 years to address the burgeoning serial theft, drug crimes and resulting homeless.

Assembly Democrats even created the Select Committee on Retail Theft. But California doesn’t need a legislative committee “to identify policy solutions to this ongoing crisis.”

Instead, they killed bill after bill authored by Republicans in ensuing 10 years. And, they waited until the Fix 47 ballot initiative looked as if it would make it to the ballot. They would rather keep Prop. 47 in tact, and create new laws – a demonstration if ever there was one that Democrats have no idea how to lead on any issue.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Mom Bares All: ‘Our Son is a Product of the Failed Prop 47’

California needs to create accountability to stop repeated crimes and improve community safety

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Ten years of increased drug and serial theft crimes across California has taken its toll on the state’s residents and businesses. Because of Proposition 47, there is no accountability when it comes to these crimes, theft is underreported and some stores are even told not to report theft crimes. Drug crimes are not prosecuted, nor are drug addicts getting the help they need. But help is on the way – a proposed ballot initiative to amend Prop. 47 is currently collecting signatures for the November 2024 ballot.

A California Globe reader recently sent me an email about the effort to heavily amend Proposition 47 via ballot initiative, and how close to home the failed initiative has hit her family. I have met this woman and worked with her some years ago on issues in her region of the state.

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What she had to say was like a gut punch:

“I follow you on the social media sites and enjoy your articles. The most recent article about, ‘Prop 47 being Cataclysmic,’ hit home and is spot-on,” she said.

“You could say, our son is a product of the failed Prop 47.  Not sure if he would benefit from jail time or not, but something needs to be done or else he might end up dying on the streets,” she said.

“I have sent letters to all of the Assembly members on the Public Safety Committee and those on the Select Committee on Fentanyl, Opioid Addiction, and Overdose Prevention.”

“I received a very nice response letter from Assemblyman Juan Alanis, Vice Chair on Public SafetyCommittee, after mailing my first round of letters. The second round of letters were sent a few days ago to the Select Committee.

“I sent cover letters to all the representatives with the letter I am sharing with you regarding our broken criminal justice system.

“I wanted to let them hear from the voice of a very concerned mom.

“The latest information I have found was a recently passed bill, SB 43 (attached). This bill might help our son. (The Governor’s office says The law updates the definition for those eligible for conservatorship to include people who are unable to provide for their personal safety or necessary medical care, in addition to food, clothing, or shelter, due to either severe substance use disorder or serious mental health illnesses.)

“Not sure exactly why I’m sharing this with you,  but I know you’re frustrated with the homelessness problem and all that goes hand-in-hand with it, like so many others.

She said she hoped that sharing her family’s experiences might be insightful to others. She asked that I refrain from using their names. She continued:

“So many homeless drug addicts on the streets these days with many of them having co-occuring conditions.

“We know that there is crime associated with the homeless drug addicts, but due to Prop 47, many of crimes committed by these individuals are considered misdemeanors and they just cite and release them so they can return to the streets to do more drugs and commit more crime. It’s a vicious circle without anything being accomplished.

“Two new programs are being implemented in our County of San Bernardino; CARE Court Act and Laura’s Law. Both programs address the mental illness issues. It will be a few months before either of the programs will be up and running. Both programs involve the court system, which I’m afraid there could be a backlog in that process too.

“A new bill was recently passed SB43, which might help with our son’s situation, and others like him. I guess time will tell.”

“Our son is not thinking rationally because of the darn drugs. This is why we are trying to step-in and take charge, but then their civil liberties always come into the mix.”

She attached a video interview (below) Siyamak Khorrami with the Epoch Times did with El Dorado District Attorney Vern Pierson on California Insider, in which they discuss how the state ended up where we are with the escalating crime, and homeless drug addicts living on the streets, and what can be done to fix it.

“CA Insider” videos that explains our son’s situation to a tee, and the many others like him,” she said.

“Housing these types of individuals before they receive treatment, is not the solution (discussed in one of the videos), which some cities are trying to do to clear the streets.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Walmart, Target push for new shoplifting crackdown in California

The retailers and two mayors are proposing a proposed ballot measure to undo Proposition 47.

Photo by RMG News

Two of the nation’s largest retailers and a pair of Democratic mayors are supporting a campaign to roll back California’s landmark criminal justice reform, which has been blamed for a spike in retail theft.

Walmart and Target are the top funders of a proposed ballot measure that aims to undo Proposition 47, a voter-approved law from 2014 that reduced penalties for many lower-level drug and property crimes in the state.

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The latest initiative would give prosecutors more power to charge accused thieves as felons and force drug users into treatment with the threat of jail time, said Greg Totten, head of the California District Attorneys Association, which is spearheading the effort.

Also see: ‘Smash-and-grab’ robberies fuel new laws, but critics question the need

The campaign has gained the support of San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, who represent two of the most liberal cities in the US. Their backing reflects a growing frustration felt by the public and city leaders with the consequences of Proposition 47, which some say has emboldened criminals.

Critics point to a recent wave of smash-and-grab robberies at department stores and the prevalence of open-air drug use on city streets as evidence of the law’s shortcomings. In September, Target closed three California locations as well as six stores in other states, citing crime.

Proposition 47 was a “well-intentioned initiative” that has had “significant unintended consequences,” Mahan said at a press conference this week. “A small number of people brazenly commit crimes without fear of accountability. People are so trapped in addiction that they refuse services and subsist in misery on our streets.”

Other large backers of the campaign include a prison-guard union, Macy’s Inc., and businessman and political donor William Oberndorf, who was a major contributor to a 2022 recall effort that ousted San Francisco’s progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin.

The mayors’ stance puts them at odds with other Democratic leaders in the state, including Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Supporters of Proposition 47, who include civil rights groups, public defenders and some law enforcement officials, credit the decade-old law for slashing incarceration rates, reducing racial disparities in arrests and cutting prison costs. The measure has also funneled funds to effective crime prevention programs, they say.

Retail theft

US retailers say they have suffered an increase in inventory losses, known as shrink, due in part to organized retail crime, which targets both high-end goods and everyday items like toothpaste and baby formula.

Also see: Retail group pulls back on claim organized retail crime accounts for nearly half of inventory loss

According to a study last year by the National Retail Federation, a trade group that includes Walmart and Target, shrink rose to 1.6% of sales in 2022, up from 1.4% the previous year, but in line with the two years before that. That worked out to about $112 billion in lost merchandise, and theft — both external and internal — accounted for almost two-thirds of the total. Shrink also includes losses from damage and administrative error.

Los Angeles and San Francisco topped the list of US metro areas most affected by organized retail crime, followed by Houston and New York, the trade group said. Sacramento, California, also ranked in the top 10.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Finally Waking Up? Mayor London Breed joins GOP-led effort to overhaul Prop. 47

San Francisco Mayor London Breed is joining a Republican-led campaign to roll back parts of a law that aimed to reduce jail populations but that critics say has emboldened thieves. 

Santiago Mejia/The Chronicle

Breed on Thursday threw her support behind the proposal to increase jail time for dealing large quantities of fentanyl, make it easier to charge drug dealers with murder, and increase jail time for repeat thefts and organized retail theft. San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan also announced his support for the measure Thursday morning.

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They’re among a wave of Democrats this year who are backing efforts to overhaul or reform Proposition 47, a 2014 law approved by voters that reduced punishments for drug possession and theft of property worth less than $950.

Breed said she initially supported Prop. 47. But she said she’s seeing some of the unintended consequences of the measure as she tries to crack down on illegal drugs and thefts in San Francisco. 

“Our goal is not to keep people locked up,” she said. “But when there are no real consequences for crimes that are committed in this city, that’s a real problem.”

Breed, who is campaigning for reelection, is under pressure to combat what many residents view as a scourge of crime in San Francisco, even though data shows some of the characterizations of lawlessness in the city are exaggerated.

Supporters of the proposal she’s backing are collecting signatures to place it on the ballot in November. They must collect more than half a million signatures by April 23. The campaign’s top donors are Walmart, Target, Macy’s and a powerful California prison guards union, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

California Republicans have long been the harshest critics of the law and have repeatedly tried to overturn it. They argue it has emboldened people to steal without fear of consequences. The initiative’s chief proponent and campaign chair are both Republicans. Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Rocklin (Placer County), who introduced an unsuccessful measure as a state lawmaker to roll back Prop. 47, hosted an event last week encouraging supporters to sign the petition to put the measure on the ballot. Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer and Assembly Member Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield, have also announced their support. State Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, has contributed $15,000 to the effort, according to campaign finance filings.

Supporters of Prop. 47, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, argued that reducing jail time for lower-level offenses would be good for communities and save the state money that could be used for education and other government programs aimed at keeping people from committing crimes in the first place.

Newsom reaffirmed his support for the measure last month when asked about efforts to revamp the law. He pointed out that the $950 threshold for felony theft in the law is actually one of the lowest in the country. Texas, for example, has a minimum felony theft threshold of $2,500.

“Everyone is rushing to reform Prop. 47 to raise the threshold,” he told reporters at a news conference last month. “That’s not the fundamental issue.”

Instead of reforming Prop. 47, Newsom said the state needs to do more to crack down on organized retail theft, which he said has become a major problem.

Newsom is also taking a more tough-on-crime approach to governing, recently sending more state police officers to crack down on theft and violence in Oakland and drug dealing in San Francisco. Last month, he called for lawmakers to send him legislation to increase punishments for people who steal, including by making it easier for police to arrest suspects even if they did not witness them stealing and imposing harsher penalties for car thieves and people who resell stolen goods. He’s also calling for changes to the law that would make it easier for prosecutors to show a person met the $950 threshold for stolen goods.

Though most Democrats have backed Prop. 47, there has been some support for overhauling the proposition among the party’s moderates for years. But the endorsement of the ballot measure by Mahan and Breed indicates distaste for the law is growing among Democrats. They join San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat who said the law needs to be changed during his State of the City address earlier this month.

“That law may have made sense at the time,” he said. “However, since it was implemented, we’ve seen criminals exploit these reforms.”

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Californians eager to junk soft-on-crime law pushed by Kamala Harris

An overwhelming percentage of Californians, sick of surging robberies and “smash-and-grab” thefts at stores from Target to Nordstrom, are rallying to shelve a law once pushed by Vice President Kamala Harris that is blamed for the rise in crime.

In a new survey shared with Secrets, 70% of California voters back an initiative to amend Proposition 47, which passed when Harris was state attorney general and recategorized low-level theft and crimes from felonies to misdemeanors.

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Instead, the Homeless, Drug Addiction, Retail Theft Reduction Act would increase penalties on criminals and also boost support for addicts and the homeless.

Crime “is as bad as I’ve seen it during my career,” former Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten said.

“I can tell you, as a prosecutor, we weren’t seeing this kind of rampant theft prior to passage of Prop 47, and when people figure out there’s no consequences, of course, it escalates,” added Totten, chairman of the campaign to get the initiative on the November ballot. He is also CEO of the California District Attorneys Association.

The goal of Proposition 47 was to cut the prison population and increase treatments for convicts. Harris was involved in giving the proposition a nice-sounding title, “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”

In changing the penalties for small crimes, there has been a surge in petty crime, especially store thefts, and drug use, which has led to higher homelessness, Totten said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) saw that firsthand recently. He said at a press conference this week that he watched as a shoplifter walked out of a Target with unpaid items. He asked a store clerk why somebody wasn’t called to stop the shoplifter.

The clerk, who apparently didn’t recognize Newsom, blamed the “governor” for reclassifying thefts under $950 as misdemeanors.

He denied that but said, “Why am I spending $380, and everyone can walk the hell right out?”

Lots of Californians are asking themselves the same thing.

In the Axis Research survey shared with Secrets, even those who voted for Proposition 47 want changes. “When asked if there should be changes to Prop 47 to allow for stronger penalties for those engaged in the trafficking of hard drugs or for repeat offenders of retail theft, voters support changes at a margin of 8-to-1. This includes 83% of those who voted ‘yes’ on Prop 47 who now support changes to the law,” the survey analysis said.

Totten said his group has already collected over 300,000 signatures of the 550,000 needed to get the initiative on the ballot. He said they are coming in at 40,000 a week.

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Examiner

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