Prominent liberal supporters of two high-profile ballots for California’s criminal justice reform promoted as a public safety benefit were largely silent when Fox News Digital asked them about the rising crime gripping the Golden State.
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg did not respond to multiple requests for comment on their previous support for California’s Proposition 47 or 57 amid lingering concerns that the measures have made the streets more unsafe, driving some residents to other places. states.
In addition, Fox News Digital reached out to former Senator Darrell Steinberg, billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer and the AFL-CIO, but received no comment about their support for those measures.
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Prop 47, passed by California voters in 2014, turned “non-violent” property crimes such as commercial burglary, possession of stolen property, and grand larceny into felonies, turned simple drug possession from a misdemeanor into a misdemeanor, and allowed individuals to be re-sentenced to prison for those crimes.
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Inmates in the California Department of Corrections system are shown. (Getty Images)
The measure was supported by then-Lt. Gov. Newsom and co-author of then-San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. The latter defended his support in a San Francisco Chronicle article in 2018, said he was “proud” of the measures and argued that his state “no longer stores those addicted to drugs in our jails and jails.”
Prop 57, backed by Newsom, Gascon and at least $1 million in funds from Zuckerberg in 2016, increased the chances of parole for many supposedly nonviolent offenders and ensured that thousands of prisoners Previously convicted under the state’s “3 Strikes Law” can apply for parole on good behavior in an effort, supporters say, to reduce prison overcrowding.
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About a decade after the two proposals went into effect, California is in a situation where crime is on the rise, violent criminals are released early from prison, and videos are going viral on social media of looters brazenly walking out of stores with merchandise. to some prominent retail locations to close their doors.
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
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Poll last year around election time showed that two out of three Californians said crime was a “big problem” for them, and now many law enforcement officers are saying publicly that many of these criminal justice measures make their jobs more difficult.
“Legislative changes over the past decade, including AB109, Prop 47 and Prop 57, have made it increasingly difficult to ensure the safety of our citizens, but that hasn’t stopped our tireless efforts,” said Larry Gonzalez, Riverside Police Chief.
While some Democratic politicians have pointed to statistics that they say show crime is not on the rise, Californians have been leaving the state in record numbers, with many citing crime as a major reason why.
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“I mean, this has gotten out of hand,” Tony Hall, a former San Francisco city councilman and entrepreneur, told Fox News Digital this week. “Anyone who says it isn’t is out of touch with the real world. And we have a lot of elected people here who tell us ‘no’.” The level of crime we experience in San Francisco is no different than anywhere else in the country. False, completely false.”
Violent crime in San Francisco rose as much as 80% earlier this year, according to a recent poll that showed that only 17% of travelers on the city’s public transit system feel safe and 73% wanted to see more police on the trains . Los Angeles has also seen an increase in many crime categories in recent years, including a 24% spike in serious crimes such as aggravated assault, murder and rape on public trains and buses by 2022.
Only about two dozen crimes in California are considered “violent crimes” due to various criminal justice reforms in the state, meaning felons like Smiley Allen Martin have served less than half their sentences. In Martin’s case, she was released last year under Prop 57 reforms after serving time for beating a friend, dragging her out of her house by her hair, and beating her with a belt.
Shortly after his release, he was arrested again in connection with a mass shooting that left 12 people injured and six dead.
Gascon’s office and former California governor Jerry Brown were the only two Prop 47 or 57 supporters to defend them. In a statement to Fox News Digital, Gascon’s office argued that both have “improved the safety of California residents.”
“These proposals have been supported by California voters and reflect their desire to see reform in the criminal justice system,” Gascon’s office said. “The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released a report showing that after voters passed Prop 57 in 2016, fewer people committed crimes after incarceration. Even in the first year, the number of people successfully returning to their communities without additional convictions by three percentage points to 55.4%. Recidivism rates have also dropped as a result of Prop 47.”
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District Attorney George Gascon (Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images)
Gascon’s office cited a Public Policy Institute of California study that showed lower recidivism rates, saying “Common sense reform means less crime on our streets”.
Gascon’s office also argued that California is less dangerous than many red states across the country.
“The facts show that even the most conservative, hard-crime states have a higher rate of violent crime, especially murder rates, than progressive states like California. This is according to unbiased studies,” Gascon’s office said. “The Prop 47 threshold that sets the dollar amount by which theft can be prosecuted as a felony up to $950 to adjust for inflation is one of the most difficult thresholds in the country. Conservative states such as Texas and Wisconsin have a much higher threshold of $2,500 Many states are at $2,000. People who commit theft in California, where reform is taking place, are punished more severely than in many conservative states.”
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A homeless camp is shown in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Fox 11 Los Angeles)
A spokesperson for Brown, a Prop 57 supporter, said the former governor “continues to support common sense reforms that make our communities safer” and be on a report that recidivism decreased as a result. The spokesman also referred to the proposal being supported by more than 60% of voters and noted that it survived an attempted withdrawal.
Critics of the proposals, including Heritage Foundation lawyer Zack Smith, argue that California is indeed less safe.
“Newsom, Gascon, and others like to say that red states have higher homicide rates than blue states,” said Smith, co-author of “Rogue Prosecutors: How Radical Soros Lawyers Are Destroying America’s Communities.”
“Anyone who has worked in criminal justice or law enforcement knows that state-level crime data is largely pointless except as a mechanism to score political points because crime is hyperlocalized,” he said.
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“These proposals have had a negative effect on California crime,” Smith continued. “They have sent a message that certain types of crimes are tolerated and punished only lightly. Contrary to claims by many on the left that serving appropriate prison sentences, including longer sentences required by increased sentences, does not deter crime, studies show to just the opposite.”
Mark Zuckerberg (George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Cully Stimson, Senior Legal Fellow of the Heritage Foundation and co-author of “Rogue Prosecutors: How Radical Soros Lawyers Are Destroying America’s Communities,” told Fox News Digital that the “cumulative impact” of all progressive crime reform proposals in California is the greatest . pernicious” aspect.
“So, if you just take one, let’s say the other two were gone, okay, that’s bad,” Stimson said. “But when you add all three together on top of the rogue prosecutors, on top of the defunding of the police and certainly the demoralization of the precinct, you have the perfect storm.”
Andrew Mark Miller is a writer at Fox News. Find him on Twitter @andymarkmiller and email tips to [email protected].