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Proposition 20 Rolls Back Criminal Justice Reforms, Expands Early Parole Ineligibility

Voters are set to consider Proposition 20 on the November California ballot, which would expand the list of felonies for which the convicted are ineligible for early parole, increase penalties for repeat shoplifters, and standardize the collection of DNA samples from adults convicted of some misdemeanors.

The ballot initiative was designed to make changes to AB 109 (2011), Proposition 47 (2014), and Proposition 57 (2016) — three measures that were each intended to reduce the state’s prison inmate population after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in the state’s prisons resulted in cruel and unusual punishment.

The measure also would increase penalties for people who commit multiple thefts, including serial shoplifting, to address a spate of such crimes, and would mandate the collection of DNA samples from adults convicted of crimes newly classified as misdemeanors under AB 109, including forging checks and certain domestic violence crimes, according to the full text of the proposition.

In addition, Prop. 20 would limit access to parole programs established for non-violent offenders who have completed the full term of their primary offense by eliminating eligibility for certain offenses.

The fiscal impact of Prop. 20 is expected to increase state and local correctional, court, and law enforcement costs likely in the tens of millions of dollars annually, depending on implementation, according to the official ballot summary.

A yes vote on this measure means: People who commit certain theft-related crimes (such as repeat shoplifting) could receive increased penalties (such as longer jail terms). Additional factors would be considered for the state’s process for releasing certain inmates from prison early. Law enforcement would be required to collect DNA samples from adults convicted of certain misdemeanors, according to the official California Voter Information Guide.

“Claims that Proposition 20 will fill our prisons with thousands of new inmates are false,” said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys. “It doesn’t send one new person to prison. It simply requires violent offenders and sexual predators to complete their full sentences.”

Major fiduciary supporters for Prop. 20 include the Association For Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs PIC and the  Los Angeles Police Protective League Issues PAC, both of which donated $200,000 each to the initiative.

Grocery store chains Albertsons and Kroger have made statements they supported the measure because shoplifting and organized retail crime have been on the rise, amounting to significant losses, and threatening the safety of employees and customers. Albertsons is also the fifth-largest donor to Prop. 20 at $100,000.

Retailers and law enforcement officials have blamed the passage of Proposition 47 for a spike in shoplifting stating that organized retail theft rings were taking advantage of reduced penalties, according to company statements.
Proposition 20 would allow thefts of property worth more than $250 to be punished as felonies, which could increase the amount of time people convicted of shoplifting crimes serve. It would also create two new crimes: serial theft and organized retail theft, which could also be charged as felonies and result in jailtime of up to three years.

“Proposition 20 closes a loophole in the law that now allows convicted child molesters, sexual predators and others convicted of violent crimes to be released from prison early. Proposition 20 also expands DNA collection to help solve rapes, murders and other serious crimes, and strengthens sanctions against habitual thieves who steal repeatedly,” reads a prop argument from the California Voter Information Guide.

A no vote on this measure means: Penalties for people who commit certain theft-related crimes would not be increased. There would be no change to the state’s process for releasing certain inmates from prison early. Law enforcement would continue to be required to collect DNA samples from adults only if they are arrested for a felony or required to register as sex offenders or arsonists.

Opponents include National Center for Crime Victims and Chief Probation Officers of California, according to the No on Prop. 20 website.

“Crime victims and law enforcement leaders oppose Prop 20 because it wastes tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on prisons while cutting the rehabilitation programs we know work — that makes us all less safe,” said William Landsdowne, a retired former San Diego Police Chief.

The list of major donors for the No on 20 campaign are dominated by philanthropists, including $2 million from Patty Quillin, the wife of Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings,  and $1.25 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

“Prop. 20 is a prison spending scam. California already has severe and lengthy sentences—including life in prison—for serious and violent crimes. Prison special interests want to scare you into spending tens of millions on prisons which could force draconian cuts to rehabilitation, schools, mental health, and homelessness,” reads an argument against Prop. 20 from the California Voter Information Guide.

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Proposition 20 Rolls Back Criminal Justice Reforms, Expands Early Parole Ineligibility

One comment

  1. No on Gascon ! He’s responsible for Prop. 47 and 57 & AB(Liberals)109–stop crime

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About Jade Aubuchon

A Santa Clarita native, Jade has spent her whole life involved in community outreach. After graduating from Learning Post High in 2015, she went on to College of the Canyons to pursue a double major in English and Marketing. Jade spent several years as a ballroom dance performer for a local studio and has performed at public and private events throughout Santa Clarita.