PERSPECTIVE-I had a firsthand look of the chaos bestowed on the population by the passage of Prop 47. As almost all of you know, the measure raised the threshold of a felony and led to the early release of many career criminals.
A neighbor’s house was ransacked and robbed last night. The family was on an errand for a period of less than two hours, not a long time by most measures, but far more than enough time for criminals to do their deed.
I talked with the LAPD officers who were investigating. When I mentioned there has been a steady increase of property crimes in the community since the passage of Prop 47, the officer piped right up, “We are seeing an influx of thieves from other states. They know the odds of going to jail are slim.”
There have been steady reports posted to Nextdoor about burglaries in Valley Village. As president of the homeowners’ association, I am acutely aware of this growing problem, which effects many communities in Los Angeles. I have lived here since 1986 and have never before seen such a spike in crimes.
Many of the crimes are brazen – carried out in broad daylight. Thieves have walked all the way up driveways to break into cars, not simply satisfied to target those parked on the street. That takes some cajones -- and desperation -- a combination that is dangerously explosive and could indicate a propensity for violence by the perpetrators.
It is bad enough that thousands of professional burglars have flooded the streets after early release; we have also become a magnet for out-of-state talent, as the LAPD officer related.
The people of California voted for Prop 47. It was supported by the top elected officials in the state. It even had the support of New Gingrich!
It is time for the state’s voters to reverse this truly misguided policy. It will require a new ballot measure, and, in the short run, legislation mitigating the impact of 47.
It is also time to build new prisons. Instead of selling bonds to construct an extraordinarily expensive high-speed train, let’s invest in state-of-the-art prisons which have the facilities for addressing and correcting the causes of recidivism. There will always be those who do not respond to intervention – they will ultimately require a lifetime of incarceration, so the capacity must be in place to deal with them as well.
Opponents to this would claim we cannot incarcerate ourselves out of a growing, statewide crime wave. The converse for that argument is more grounded in reality – we cannot reduce crime by rapidly increasing the supply of criminals, as Prop 47 has done.
(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone and do not represent the opinions of Valley Village Homeowners Association or CityWatch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.) Graphic: Jeff Durham/Bay Area News Group. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.