Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone will ask the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to oppose a statewide initiative that would reduce most non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, and allow re-sentencing for thousands of convicted felons in state prison.
Calling it a poorly written initiative that is “an invitation for disaster,” Stone noted that Prop. 47’s long list of opponents includes the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the statewide associations of district attorneys, police chiefs, and sheriffs. A resolution opposing the initiative will be on the Board of Supervisors agenda Tuesday (July 29).
“The initiative would allow up to 10,000 state prison inmates a chance at resentencing,” Stone warned. “This would send a terrible message to criminals and produce a disastrous consequence for society.”
The initiative, which is on the November ballot, would reduce the penalty for most nonviolent crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. Crimes covered under the initiative include shoplifting and theft of items valued up to $950; forgery, fraud or identity involving up to the same amount; and possession of a narcotic drug.
“Even possession of illegal "date-rape" drugs would be a slap on the wrist," Stone said. “It is an attempt to weaken and further render impotent the state's criminal justice system.” Stone argued that there are no longer any petty criminals in state prisons and that drug diversion programs already are available to many first-time, low-level drug offenders.
Proponents say the initiative would require a “thorough review” of the criminal history and risk assessment of any inmates before re-sentencing to ensure that they do not pose a risk to the public. The initiative also would create a Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Fund. The fund’s revenue would grow based on the year-over-year savings attributable to the initiative’s implementation. Estimates range from $150 million to $250 million per year, with 25 percent going to the Department of Education, 10 percent the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, and 65 percent to the Board of State and Community Corrections.
The California Retailers Association also opposes the initiative.
“Reducing penalties for theft, receiving stolen property and forgery could cost retailers and consumers millions of dollars,” association president Bill Dombrowski said.