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Tough-on-Crime Measure Makes its Way to California’s November Ballot

A bipartisan coalition largely sponsored by big box retailers like Target, Walmart, and Home Depot is pushing a tough-on-crime statewide ballot measure that could make its way to California voters in the November election. The measure would increase criminal penalties for shoplifting and drug dealing in the state.

Californians for Safer Communities is a bipartisan group backed by businesses, law enforcement, and elected officials from across the state who are concerned by the rampant spread of homelessness, shoplifting, and drug use in California. The proposed initiative would roll back parts of Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for theft and drug possession offenses when it was passed by voters in 2014. The proposition reduced charges for many theft and drug-related crimes in an effort to solve overcrowding in jails. Instead, this lax-on-crime method emboldened criminals, who are now unafraid to commit large-scale theft in broad daylight.

“This isn’t an abstraction anymore. This is something people see and experience,” Daniel Conway of the California Grocers Association shared. “People see folks pushing shopping carts out. They see people taking things, or they see security guards in front of their local grocery store.”

The proposed initiative, “Homelessness, Drug Addiction and Theft Reduction Act,” would reverse many of the measures implemented by Proposition 47 by strengthening penalties for retail theft and fentanyl use amid a growing drug epidemic. It would also require those convicted of fentanyl use to go through a drug treatment program mandated by the state.

Californians for Safer Communities was required to obtain 546,651 signatures in support of the measure by April 23 in order to see their initiative on the November ballot. On April 18th, they submitted over 900,000.

“We are convinced that California’s at a tipping point with these issues and the public overwhelmingly supports accountability for people who steal repeatedly and increased treatment for people who suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues,” CEO of the California District Attorneys Association Greg Totten stated. “We have every confidence we’re going to be on the ballot in November.”



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