t did help compliance with reducing prison population
By JP Crumrine
Nearly four years ago, November 2014, California voters approved Proposition 47, but that was not the beginning of a crime wave — of any proportion — despite some law enforcement officials’ concern about the effect of Prop 47.
Prop 47 reduced certain non-serious and nonviolent property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. The measure also allowed certain offenders who had been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences.
The proposition was a response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring California to reduce its prison and jail populations.
This month, the Public Policy Institute of California released its study of how the proposition’s new terms have affected crime and recidivism.
“We find no evidence that violent crime increased as a result of Proposition 47,” the report’s authors concluded. They also found no evidence that burglaries or auto thefts have increased since its passage.
The one correlated finding was an increase in larceny thefts, which have increased about 10 percent. Thefts from motor vehicles and shoplifting typically represent three-quarters of these reports.
While some officials have attributed an increase in shoplifting to Prop 47, PPIC reported that shoplifting decreased in 2016. The number of incidents of shoplifting is about equal to the 2010 levels.
While violent crime reports have risen since the passage of Prop 47, PPIC identified two other more direct causes for the increase of reports. First, “the FBI implemented a change in 2014 that expanded the definition of sexual crimes that constitute rape.” This alone represents more than 2 percent of the increase in the violent crime rate from 10.7 percent to 13 percent between 2014 and 2016.
Secondly, the Los Angeles Police Department was found to be significantly underreporting violent crimes prior to 2014. Accounting for both of these changes, PPIC determined that the 2016 violent crime rate was the lowest since 2010, except for 2014.
The reduction of sentences did lower prison population and the state has complied with the Supreme Court order.
Finally, the PPIC study also found that re-arrest and reconviction rates were lower after Prop 47’s implementation than before.