Stop the Prison Spending Scam

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  • Paul Michael Griffin
    commented 2020-10-07 18:57:53 -0700
    Proposition 20: Restricts Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated only as Misdemeanors.

    This is another complicated proposition. For the most part, this proposition is trying to undo and/or amend several things that Prop. 47 enacted back in 2014 and Prop. 57 in 2016. This proposition will do four things.

    First, it will increase penalties for some theft-related crimes. Major crimes are felonies while lesser crimes are misdemeanors. Then there are crimes that – depending on the situation, circumstances, and fallout – are somewhere in the middle. They are sometimes referred to as “wobblers.” The prosecution and/or judge may seek to charge a defendant accused of a wobbler with either a felony or misdemeanor. Prop. 20 seeks to create two new theft-related crimes. The first is “Serial Theft” which is when anyone who has two or more past convictions for certain theft-related crimes (burglary, forgery, carjacking) who are found guilty of shoplifting or petty theft involving property worth more than $250 can be charged with this offense. The second is “Organized Retail Theft” which is when anyone acting with others who commit petty theft or shoplifting two or more times when the total value of property stolen exceeds $250 within 180 days of each offense. Both of these crimes would be called “Wobblers,” punishable up to three years in county jail. Additionally, Prop. 20 seeks to make misdemeanor theft ($950 or less of stolen property) to only be a misdemeanor if the property stolen is for sale; otherwise it becomes a felony. This potentially could cause the sentence for someone convicted of theft to have their maximum sentence increased from 6 months in county jail to 3 years in state prison.

    Second, Prop. 20 will force probation officers to request a change in terms of supervision from a judge. Currently, the probation officers can use their discretion as to when to ask a judge to change the terms of supervision if a parolee violates their parole. Prop. 20 will make it mandatory upon the parole officer to request a change from a judge if the parolee is found to have violated the terms of their parole three times.

    Third, Prop. 20 makes the following changes to Prop. 57.
    1. It will exclude some inmates from the parole process, such as those convicted of assault and domestic violence.
    2. It requires the state Board of Parole Hearings to deny release of inmates who pose an unreasonable risk of committing felonies that result in victims rather than those who only pose unreasonable risk of violence.
    3. It requires the Board of Parole Hearings to consider additional issues such as inmate attitudes about their crime(s) when deciding to release them.
    4. Currently, parolees who are rejected by the Board of Parole Hearings must wait 1 year before they can apply for parole again. Prop. 20 extends this to 2 years.
    5. Prop. 20 would allow prosecutors to request the Board of Parole Hearings to look at reports of prior parole behavior for inmates who are up for another chance at parole.
    6. Prop. 20 will require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to locate and notify victims of the review even if those victims are not registered with the State.

    Fourth, Prop. 20 will require state and local law enforcement to collect DNA samples from adults convicted of certain misdemeanors like shoplifting, forging checks, and some domestic violence crimes.

    This proposition was put on the ballot through gathering signatures. It’s supported by the Los Angeles Police, the Los Angeles County Police, two Republican and one Democrat legislators, and Albertson’s. The main arguments for this proposition is that it safeguards our communities by putting more criminals back into prison and keeps prisoners in prison longer.

    The opposition consists of the Democratic Party and a slew of organizations fighting for equal rights. The main argument against is that these measures do not work and would cost tax-payers more money to fund a failing prison system.

    Overall, I am heavily leaning no on this proposition. We have judges and parole boards to make tough decisions when it comes to assessing a person’s suitability to return to society. Of course, there are going to be times when these individuals make a wrong decision – as we are all human beings. But society has been reacting out of fear rather than acting out of good conscience. Propositions like these make the voters feel like they have power and control when they do not. No one likes to be micromanaged, and we all know how nearly impossible it is to do our jobs when we are micromanaged. When we handcuff our judges and parole boards to act in ways that might not be suitable for an individual convicted of a crime, we only increase our recidivism rate. We need to start trusting our governmental system again. We need to start trusting the people we vote for to do their jobs correctly and effectively. Only when those few prove their incompetence do we vote them out, not pass legislation that prevents all from doing their jobs.

    What disturbs me the most is the part that says the parole boards are required to deny release of any inmate who poses unreasonable risk of committing felonies that result in victims. What felony doesn’t have a victim? This language would force the denial of almost anyone convicted of a felony. This language betrays the true intent of this proposition – they don’t care about the safety of society or the prisoners; private prisons make money when they are full of prisoners, and that’s all they care about…money. If we truly believe rehabilitation is possible, we cannot allow laws like these to circumvent that process for monetary gain.
  • Progressive Alliance of the Inland Empire
    published this page in No on Prop 20 2020-10-07 15:11:03 -0700