Astute Legal Insurrection readers may recall that in 2014, nearly 60% of California voters approved Proposition 47—ironically known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.” The measure reduced the classification of most nonviolent property and drug crimes—including theft and fraud for amounts up to $950—from a felony to a misdemeanor.

It was a feel-good solution to address the over-crowding in the prisons related to California’s 3-strikes law. A couple years after its passage, police in San Jose were dealing with a surge in violent crime; however, Proposition 47 supporters were unmoved.

Tom Hoffman, one of the architects of Proposition 47, which downgraded felony classifications for a series of drug possession and petty theft crimes, sympathizes with police agencies. But the former West Sacramento deputy police chief who oversaw state parole in the late 2000s asserts that incarceration can no longer be a reflexive penalty.

“I thought like they did until I was head of state parole,” Hoffman said. “We have to begin to respond differently to nonviolent crimes, especially those that have to do with a separate core cause like homelessness, drug addiction or unemployment. We have to be thoughtfully realistic about the world we find ourselves in. We can’t lock up everybody.”

It appears nonviolent crime is also escalating. CBS13 Sacramento has a chilling report about nearby Vacaville, where “Grab and Dash” thefts are on the rise.

You’ve likely seen the videos on social media or the local news: groups of people rushing into a store, grabbing armfuls of merchandise. The brazen crimes are on the rise and CBS13 has learned, in most cases, the crooks get away from authorities.

After searching police reports and arrest records, CBS13 found that while the rate of these grab and dash crimes is on the rise, the rate of arrest is down. We turned to law enforcement and the retail industry for answers. Both blame a California law intended to make “neighborhoods safe.”

“It’s a boldness like we’re seeing never before and just a disregard for fellow human beings,” said Lieutenant Mark Donaldson, Vacaville PD.

He explained these crimes have evolved into more than just shoplifting. It’s organized retail theft and he says it’s happening across the state. Cities like Vacaville, with outlets and shopping centers located near major freeways, tend to be a target for these organized retail crime rings.

Theft is now considered a misdemeanor if it is for less than $950. The thieves or so bold, that when caught, they simply ask for their ticket before they are released.

The Police Chiefs Association are hoping to get a new ballot measure approved: “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2020.” It would restore the penalties for serial thieves and theft gangs.

These developments may help explain the shocking report recently published by the Los Angeles Times: Conservatives want to flee the state.

…[C]onservatives, also frequently suggested they wanted to leave — and for a very different reason: They feel alienated from the state’s political culture.

Republicans and conservative voters were nearly three times as likely to have seriously considered moving as their Democratic or liberal counterparts — 40% compared with 14%, the poll found. The conservative voters mentioned taxes and California’s political climate as a reason for leaving more frequently than they cited housing.

“If the people who are giving serious consideration for leaving are indeed going to follow through, the state will continue to get bluer and bluer,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS poll. “That has huge political implications.”

Rumor has it that the state will soon change its motto from “Eureka” to “Unintended Consequences.”


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