Over the past decade, California has made progress enacting laws that reduce the prison population and create a more effective and equitable public safety system. Prop 20 would roll back many advances in criminal justice reforms and reinstate a “get tough” law enforcement system that believes longer incarceration is a solution to crime. It would make minor theft of some goods worth over $250 punishable as a felony. It allows the state to collect DNA from people convicted of misdemeanors like shoplifting and drug possession. Prop 20 sends California in the wrong direction at a time when there is forward momentum toward smart justice approaches that increase public safety and reduce costs to the state.
Vote NO on Prop 20
Proposition 20 would result in longer incarceration for many people caught up in the criminal legal system. Its proponents believe this will keep the community safer, but it does not. Longer sentences do not lower recidivism rates and reducing non-violent crimes to misdemeanor charges does not increase violent crime. This measure attempts to weaken voter-enacted measures that the League has supported, like Prop 47 ( Nov 2014) and Prop 57 (Nov 2016).
This measure will make it more difficult for incarcerated people to get Prop 57 relief. For example, incarcerated people sentenced to life with the possibility of parole or convicted of certain types of assault would never be eligible for local supervision post-release. It also reverses some of the Prop 47 reforms in which wobbler offenses (crimes that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony) were lowered to misdemeanor charges.
The measure also expands DNA collection that is allowed by Prop 69, which the League opposed back in 2004. Prop 20 would further erode individual rights because even if a person is proven innocent, the onus for removing that person’s DNA information from records is placed on the individual, not on the state. Furthermore, some of the DNA expansion in the measure extends to Prop 47 misdemeanors such as shoplifting, check forgeries under $950, and petty theft. While these “wobbler offenses” became misdemeanors under Prop 47, Prop 20 would effectively increase penalties by encroaching on the individual liberties of suspects through DNA collection by law enforcement.
Vote NO on Proposition 20’s proposed rollback of criminal justice reforms that California has thoughtfully developed and implemented to create a more equitable public safety process and reduce our prison population.
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