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by Peter Moskos

October 12, 2015

Prop 47 in California

In the Washington Post.
In the 11 months since the passage of Prop 47, more than 4,300 state prisoners have been resentenced and then released. Drug arrests in Los Angeles County have dropped by a third. Jail bookings are down by a quarter.
...
Robberies up 23 percent in San Francisco. Property theft up 11 percent in Los Angeles. Certain categories of crime rising 20 percent in Lake Tahoe, 36 percent in La Mirada, 22 percent in Chico and 68percent in Desert Hot Springs.

It’s too early to know how much crime can be attributed to Prop 47, police chiefs caution, but what they do know is that instead of arresting criminals and removing them from the streets, their officers have been dealing with the same offenders again and again. Caught in possession of drugs? ... Caught stealing something worth less than $950? That means a ticket, too.
...
“Frustrating, frustrating,” said Zimmerman, the police chief.... “Just sending our officers to deal with problems that never get solved.”
...
“Aren’t we lulling him into a sense of security?” Goldsmith said. “How does it end? There’s no more incremental punishment. We let the behavior continue. We let the problems get worse. And all we can do is wait until he does something terrible, until he stabs somebody or kills somebody, and then we can finally take him off the street.”
Does America have problems? Yes. Is prison the answer? No. Seriously, if we can't figure out a better solution to mental illness, drug addiction, and vagrant crimes than -- at great expense -- locking losers in cages forever, we're pretty effing stupid!

6 comments:

Bruce Ross said...

Since when are misdemeanors not an arrestable offense?

Peter Moskos said...

In most(?) states, when it's not in an officer's presence.

Pragmatic Liberaltarian said...

"Robberies up 23 percent in San Francisco. Property theft up 11 percent in Los Angeles. Certain categories of crime rising 20 percent in Lake Tahoe, 36 percent in La Mirada, 22 percent in Chico and 68percent in Desert Hot Springs."

I hate it when someone cherry picks stats like this. The author cites examples of one type of crime in one city to try to prove a point. But, if you multiply the types of crimes by number of cities, there must be hundreds of possibilities to choose from. A few examples with no further context are meaningless.

Concerned citizen said...

I'm grateful that we have a federal form of gov't that enables experimentation (e.g., Prop 47) by individual states.

Though I'm leery of California's referendums in general, this may be an instance where that process enables a type and scope of much-needed experimentation beyond that of typical state legislatures.

After all, the state enacted an "easy on crime" measure as a result of the demand of the "People" (anonymous and therefore blameless) rather than as a result of the votes of individual state legislators who know they'll be crucified when (not if) a repeat misdemeanor offender commits a horrific high-profile crime

CG said...

The problem with releasing people who've been incarcerated is that it is really hard for them to get jobs. It's hard enough for people without skills who don't have a record. Without support on the outside, it's hard to imagine they wouldn't go back to a life of crime. The thing is, support on the outside would probably be cheaper for society in the long run.

Night Star said...

After the elimination process, meet the los angeles criminal lawyer of your choice personally. Tell them your case and observe how they talk and explain things.