Pushing ballot initiative to ban early release of violent criminals

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A push to toughen California’s criminal justice reform laws is one step closer to appearing on the ballot next fall.

A  group of lawmakers, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and victims’ right advocates filed a statewide ballot initiative hoping to prevent the early release of criminals convicted of violent crimes. 

Voters passed prop 47 in 2014 which was supposed to reduce nonviolent, non serious crimes to misdemeanors. However, lawmakers say the law doesn’t consider crimes like rape, pedophilia, child sex trafficking, domestic violence or assault of a peace officer as violent offenses.  

They also say the law reduced the dollar threshold for theft, sparking a rash of crimes that have cost Californians about one billion dollars.

“That’s where the big issue in the public goes back to, someone going in and stealing $949 a day.  as long as you go under that $950 threshold, it’s always going to be a misdemeanor.  so no one’s going to get in trouble for that so we see serial theft,” stated Assemblyman Jim Cooper.

Critics say a variety of new California criminal justice reform laws have plagued the safety for many communities across the state. Many say those laws are not working.

Victims’ rights advocates say the reform laws are wrong and that people who commit crimes need to be held responsible for their actions.

“Crime is going up in California and it’s going up in concert with a series of laws, which I don’t believe are well-meaning laws at all, that have reduced punishment on certain criminals and reduced the severity of crime. So we’re seeing individuals being put back out onto the streets at the same time that we’re seeing both violent crime and property crime rise in the state of California, said Marc Klaas a victim’s rights advocate. 

Supporters of the Public Safety Initiative need to gather over 365-thousand signatures by mid-April for it to go on the November 2018 ballot.

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