Letters to the Editor

Proposition 47 will make us less safe

Unfortunately, the proponents of Proposition 47 have named this measure “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” even though it will actually make our neighborhoods and schools much less safe than they are today.

Even the proponents of Proposition 47 admit that, if it passes, up to 10,000 felons will be released from prison back to our local communities. Proposition 47 will decrease the penalties for serious crimes such as gun theft, possession of date rape drugs, burglary and identity theft.

Under current law, stealing a gun is a serious offense. However, if Proposition 47 passes, theft of a gun will be reclassified as a simple misdemeanor. And, by reclassifying other current felonies to misdemeanors, under Proposition 47, many convicted criminals will no longer be prohibited from owning or possessing guns as they would be under current law.

Proposition 47 also severely decreases the penalty for possession of hardcore drugs such as cocaine, heroin and GHB (a drug often used for date rape). That means a predator who possesses date rape drugs would only be punished for a misdemeanor. Possession of heroin, which has taken the lives of too many youths in our county, will be treated as a petty offense.

Those who support Proposition 47 argue that this measure is geared to provide first-time, low-level offenders a second chance and to save California taxpayers millions of dollars. In reality, under current law, most first-time offenders and petty criminals are never sentenced to serve substantial time in jail or any time in prison. In fact, by law, most drug offenders are already required to be given treatment programs and probation rather than lengthy incarceration.

Current law allows discretion in charging and sentencing. However, Proposition 47 will take away that discretion from judges and prosecutors who now have the ability to weigh and evaluate each case based on the facts, including prior criminal history.

While the success of our county relies greatly on the strength of our business community and agricultural economy, Proposition 47 reduces accountability for commercial burglary, embezzlement, theft of crops, livestock and other agricultural crime. Therefore, Proposition 47 will not only make our community less safe, it will hurt our local economy and thereby reduce our quality of life.

Finally, as thousands of felons leave the state prisons, this measure will create even more pressure on our already overcrowded local jail because more offenders will only be eligible to be sentenced to jail and not prison.

Proposition 47 is not safe for our neighborhoods and schools. Please vote no on Proposition 47.