Public Safety Update: Protecting Criminals

Yes, you read that title correctly. Last week, we held our first Assembly Public Safety Committee meeting of the 2022 session, and needless to say, the outcome was frustrating.  

I am a proud co-author of AB 1599, which seeks to repeal Proposition 47 and rein in California’s crime wave.

When Prop. 47 passed in 2014, voters were told that this so-called "Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” would provide needed criminal justice reform. In reality, it has been a disaster for public safety, taking away the tools we need to rehabilitate drug offenders and opening the door for rampant retail theft.

Under Prop. 47, many felony theft and drug offenses are reclassified as misdemeanors. All retail theft of property worth $950 or less is charged as “shoplifting,” a misdemeanor. It eliminates felony penalties for serial petty theft, meaning that repeat offenders get treated as if it is their first offense. As most retail and porch piracy thefts involve goods less than $950, Prop. 47 slashed the penalties for these crimes and made us all more vulnerable. 

Prop. 47 also changed drug possession crimes that were previously felonies into misdemeanors, including possession of “date-rape” drugs, even if the suspected predator has been previously charged with the possession of those drugs. Prop. 47 has caused drug court participation to fall, because the incentive to get treatment was removed.

A recent UC Berkeley IGS poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that 78% of voters believe crime has risen statewide, and 65% say it has gone up in their local community. Most importantly, they favor changing Prop. 47 by a 2-to-1 margin.

AB 1599 would have given you, and the citizens of California, the opportunity to decide if you still want to keep these policies in place.

Unfortunately, this bill failed to pass by a 2:5 vote. You can watch my comments HERE.

The committee also heard my bill, AB 1665, which would make the crime of human trafficking of a child a serious felony, prohibiting plea bargaining and providing a sentence enhancement of 5 years in addition to the court’s sentence.

Human trafficking is one of the world's fastest-growing criminal enterprises. Nonprofit groups estimate there has been a 185% increase in human trafficking cases, and the FBI has reported a sharp rise in cases targeting children.

In light of these disturbing trends, it is evident California must do more to deter human trafficking. Traffickers are targeting our most vulnerable population, our children, for forced labor and sexual exploitation. This despicable crime should be met with the strongest punishment possible.

Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support, this bill also failed to pass through the committee by ONE vote, having received THREE NO votes. I have asked that this committee reconsider this bill at a later date. I will not give up this fight.
 
You can watch my comments and the vote HERE.

Californians deserve to live in communities safe from violent crime and rampant theft. Children deserve to live free from the threat of predators and exploitation.

Criminals should not have more protections than citizens and children. Enough is enough! It’s time to start holding criminals accountable and bring back consequences for breaking the law.