From Robert Sass, Vice President of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
Recently, an editorial writer and columnist took me to task for stating that crime has increased since the 2014 passage of Prop 47. In a sloppy mishmash of statistics and time periods, proving once again the Mark Twain adage that “figures don’t lie but liars figure,” the columnist wrote I was merely part of the law enforcement lobby’s attempt to stir up hysteria and justify “their contracts, pensions, and assorted legal protections.”
What is revealing is in his effort to dispute the crime rate increase in both violent and property crimes, the author completely and conveniently ignored the rise in crime since Prop 47. Instead, he pointed to the higher crime rates in 2006, any year before 1995, and as far back as 50 years, as if somehow that disproved the recent crime rate increase.
The undisputed facts are that in each of the three years following the 2014 passage of Prop 47, both the violent and property crime rates have increased. In Los Angeles County, 40,384 violent crimes were committed in the year prior to Prop 47; each year the number increased, with a total of 56,351 committed in 2016. Property crimes also increased every year, with 252,224 in 2016 compared to 228,419 in 2013. We doubt the many additional victims of crime due to the passage of Prop 47 appreciate the columnist’s claim it was “worse years ago.”
Prop 47 made a number of prior felony crimes inconsequential misdemeanors. How inconsequential? While there are tens of thousands misdemeanor property crimes like theft each year, jail statistics show only 176 people on average served county jail time for those crimes, and only 126 were being held pre-trial. Both retail establishment and ordinary resident victims, are aware there is no point in reporting a misdemeanor theft crime. Deputies routinely are told by these victims it is “not worth their time” to file a police report or make a private person’s arrest, and at most only hope to get their stolen property back. Just days ago, a newspaper in northern California noted property crime victims’ frustration with what they called the “catch and release” policy on thefts under $950. The facts are, as shown by statistics documenting who is serving time in L.A. County Jail, theft under $950 is now a “consequence free” crime.
Prop 47 has created a criminal culture where criminals know they face little, or far lesser, punishment for their crimes. Following the passage of AB 109, nearly 25% of jail space that could house criminals serving local sentences for property or violent crime is now occupied by those shifted from state prison to local jails to serve their time. The tens of thousands of new crime victims post Prop 47 are not taking any comfort in the argument that crime rates were higher 10 or 20 years ago, neither should the general public.
Robert Sass is Vice President of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs. The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) is the collective bargaining agent representing more than 7,900 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators working in Los Angeles County. Like our Facebook page www.facebook.com/aladsonline