published on April 5, 2018 - 12:07 PM
Written by John Lindt

The California Police Chief’s Association is proposing a statewide initiative aimed at addressing some of the problems that have resulted from the passage of recent ballot measures — particularly Propositions 47 and 57 — that they believe have negatively impacted the safety of California citizens.

Locally, Visalia Police Chief Jason Salazar is in support of this measure and is asking the Visalia City Council to adopt a resolution. The intent is for this measure to be on the ballot for the November 2018 General Election.

With a 5-0 vote this week, the Visalia City Council supported the measure.

Visalia Mayor Warren Gubler said he thinks, “Sacramento went too far” when they pushed to allow more early prison releases to help ease overcrowding.

“It seems like it just ended up increasing homelessness even as it tied the hands of law enforcement.”

Visalia officials have remarked that “homelessness is out of control” in Visalia, Gubler added.

A city staff report says this ballot measure would better define violent crime by expanding the list of violent crimes for which early release is not an option to include: rape of an unconscious person, trafficking a child for sex, assault of a peace officer, felony domestic violence and other similar crimes that are not currently classified as “violent felonies.”

The measure would also reinstate DNA collection for certain crimes that were reduced to misdemeanors through Prop 47.

It would also revise the theft threshold by adding a felony for serial theft, defined as when a person is caught for the third time stealing with a value of $250. This has a direct impact on large and small businesses that have seen increases in shoplifting as a result of Prop. 47’s increase in the theft threshold and elimination of a felony charge for petty theft with priors.

The initiative would require the Board of Parole Hearings to consider an inmate’s entire criminal history when deciding parole, not just the most recent offense, and requires a mandatory hearing to determine whether parole should be revoked for any parolee who violates the terms of his parole for the third time. Public Safety now finds that parolees who repeatedly violate the terms of their parole currently face few consequences.

Jurisdictions throughout the State of California have seen direct impacts from the passage of these criminal justice reforms in their communities, primarily measured through Part 1 Crime.

Visalia has seen Part-1 Crime increases (homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft) that are attributed directly to the passage of Prop 47 in November 2014.

Here are the numbers.

From 2007 to 2014, Part-1 Property Crimes had decreased by 27 percent, Part 1 Violent Crimes had decreased by 11 percent, and Visalia’s total Part 1 Crimes had decreased by 23 percent.

But after passage of Prop 47, from 2014 to 2017, Visalia’s Part-1 Property Crimes have increased 16 percent, Part 1 Violent Crimes have continued to decrease another 12 percent, and Visalia’s total Part 1 Crimes have increased by 7 percent.

Visalia’s 2017 Part-1 Crime statistics still show overall decreases in Property Crimes of 15 percent, Violent Crimes of 21.5 percent, and overall 17 percent from 2007 statistics.

However, the changes brought on by Prop 47 in late 2014 have certainly had an impact. Larceny has shown the most significant increase at 20 percent, burglary at 7 percent, and auto theft at 9 percent since 2014. These crimes were also directly impacted by Prop 47.

The staff report concludes that The Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018 will help to address the rise in larceny crimes by reinstating stiffer penalties for serial theft. Additionally, it will help to keep violent criminals out of our communities and continue violent crime reductions by expanding the definition of violent crimes that would not be eligible for early release from prison.

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