Liberal mayor becomes latest blue-state Dem supporting stiffer penalties for retail crime

Arjun Singh
Daily Caller News Foundation

Democratic San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Thursday joined other major-city leaders from her party supporting a California ballot initiative that would increase penalties for certain retail theft and drug crimes, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Proposition 47 was a ballot measure approved by California voters in a state-wide referendum in 2014 that reduced the penalties for property crime by reclassifying some felonies, such as shoplifting and grand theft, as misdemeanors. After a large increase in such crimes in recent years, a campaign to repeal Proposition 47 is underway, which Breed, as well as Democratic Mayors Matt Mahan of San Jose and Todd Gloria of San Diego, have endorsed, the Chronicle reported.

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“Our goal is not to keep people locked up,” said Breed, who is running for reelection in 2024, according to the Chronicle. “But when there are no real consequences for crimes that are committed in this city, that’s a real problem.”

The Homelessness, Drug Addi… by Daily Caller News Foundation

Will stronger laws be able to reverse California’s crime wave?

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The ballot initiative, known as “The Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act,” would reclassify several drug and theft offenses as felonies and prevent persons arrested for those crimes from being released on their own recognizance, which is a constitutional right in California for persons charged with misdemeanors. It would also raise penalties for narcotics traffickers and dealers when a person dies as a result of consuming the narcotics they handled.

“A small number of people brazenly commit crimes without fear of accountability, people are so trapped in addiction that they refuse services and subsist in misery on our streets and, in the worst cases, are dying of fentanyl overdoses in increasing numbers,” wrote Mahan’s office in a statement reported by KRON-4 News.

“[Proposition 47] may have made sense at the time,” said Gloria in his State of the City Address on Jan. 10. “However, since it was implemented, we’ve seen criminals exploit these reforms.”

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California supports efforts to strengthen penalties, but does not believe that revisiting Proposition 47 is the answer. “We can do it without reforming [Proposition 47] and going back to the voters,” he said on Jan. 10, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The initiative has been endorsed by several commercial associations and has, reportedly, garnered 70% of the 546,651 signatures from registered voters required to be placed on the ballot in 2024, according to a source familiar with the matter. “[W]e continue to see momentum with more than 360,000 voters signing the petition to put this measure on the ballot,” wrote Anne Marie Schubert, the former district attorney of Sacramento County, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The campaign to gather signatures has received donations from Walmart, Macy’s and the California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association, a union of prison guards in the state, the Chronicle reported. Several top Republicans from California have also endorsed the initiative, with Republican Rep. Kevin Kiley of California hosting an event on Feb. 2 to rally opponents of Proposition 47 to back the initiative.

Since 2019, Newsom’s first year in office, the commercial robbery rate in California has increased by 13.3%, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Shoplifting also increased by 28.7% in 2022, with the San Francisco Bay area accounting for much of the increase.

A poll conducted on Nov. 17, 2023, indicates that 70% of voters would approve the initiative if presented to them on the ballot.

“Mayor Mahan and Mayor Breed continue to demonstrate leadership and commitment to improving community safety by supporting this commonsense ballot measure to address the theft, fentanyl trafficking, and drug addiction challenges that are facing every community in California,” wrote Greg Totten, the chair of the campaign to advance the initiative, in an email to the DCNF.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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