A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of California faults law enforcement officials for “a disappointing level of resistance” in their response to Proposition 47, last year’s ballot measure that downgraded drug possession and some theft crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, says the Los Angeles Times. “Some are making irresponsible and inaccurate statements linking Prop. 47 and crime,” the report says. “Others are falsely claiming that they are no longer able to arrest people for petty crime or that a misdemeanor is not a ‘real’ penalty.” The report found wide differences in how law enforcement agencies are adapting to Proposition 47, which sought to reduce the prison and jail populations.
The willingness of police and sheriff’s departments to adjust to the state’s changing criminal justice landscape will ultimately determine whether Proposition 47 will be successful in reducing incarceration rates, the ACLU said. “Prop. 47 is the law, but it is not the new normal,” said the group’s Margaret Dooley-Sammuli. “As California enters Prop. 47's second year, local law enforcement, behavioral health departments and county governments need to work together to address societal issues that have long challenged our communities, including mental health, substance use disorders and homelessness.” The ACLU was a major supporter of the measure. Some law enforcement officials, including Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, have blamed Proposition 47 for rising crime and for allowing repeat offenders to break the law with minor consequences. A Times review found that property crime has increased in nine of California’s 10 largest cities this year.