Over the past few years, California voters and lawmakers have passed legislation aimed to reduce the prison population and focus on rehabilitation over incarceration.
In 2014, voters approved Proposition 47, which lessened the punishment for several drug and property crimes. Two years later, voters passed Proposition 57, which allows inmates convicted of nonviolent crimes to apply for early release and participate in rehabilitation programs.
However, critics say that criminal justice reform in California has led to an increase in crime. Those critics will soon have their chance to reverse California’s course on criminal justice reform. A ballot initiative that would rollback many of the reforms from Props 47 and 57 has been certified for the 2020 election.
The Effects of the Proposed Initiative
The California Violent Crime Definition, DNA Collection, and Parole Initiative would expand the number of crimes where DNA is collected from suspects who are arrested, which could lead to solving crimes that would otherwise go unsolved.
Proponents of this aspect of the law point to the recent arrest of Joseph James DeAngelo as an example of how DNA collection could lead to more arrests. DeAngelo, the suspected “Golden State Killer,” is accused of committing a serious of rapes and murders from 1974 to 1986 that had previously gone unsolved. He was arrested in April 2018 when his DNA from an ancestry website was matched to DNA found at the crime scene.
The ballot initiative would also reverse some of the provisions of Props 47 and 57, which reclassified some felonies as misdemeanors. For instance, the measure would make certain theft offenses involving property valued between $250 and $950 a felony again.
Is Crime on the Rise in California?
Those who support the ballot measure, including crime victims’ rights groups such as Crime Victims United of California, say that there has been an increase in crime since the passage of Props 47 and 57. However, crime statistics released by the California Attorney General’s office in July 2018 cast doubt on that claim.
According to the most recent data, there was a slight increase of 1.5% in 2017 in the violent crime rate per 100,000 persons. However, property crimes – many of which are the targets of the reforms of Props 47 and 57 – actually decreased by 2.1% in 2017. Supporters of criminal justice reform point to the decrease in property crimes as evidence of the effectiveness of these laws.
Governor Jerry Brown, whose term expires in 2019, is no fan of the 2020 ballot initiative. In a statement, he noted, “Read the fine print. This flawed initiative would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and endanger public safety by restricting parole and undermining inmate rehabilitation.”
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today
Regardless of the effect of criminal justice reform, you are facing serious criminal consequences if you are accused of a property or drug crime. That is why you should contact our skilled criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich if you have been accused of a crime. Our knowledgeable criminal lawyers have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients facing criminal charges. Let us help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.