Bay Area mayors Mahan and Breed join call for Prop 47 reform to crack down on theft, drugs

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Friday, February 9, 2024
Bay Area mayors join call for Prop 47 reform to crack down on theft
San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan joins San Francisco Mayor London Breed and other leaders in call for Prop 47 reform to crack down on theft and drugs.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A dramatic change of thinking Thursday for leaders, who originally supported a measure to reduce prison overcrowding.

The mayors of San Francisco and San Jose are among those who say Prop 47 has caused more harm than good.

Approved in 2014, Prop 47 aimed to lower the prison population by reducing most drug possession offenses and thefts of property valued under $950 from felonies to misdemeanors.

But San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan is worried about the unintended consequences.

"A small number of people brazenly commit crime without fear of accountability," Mahan said. "People are so trapped in addiction that they refuse services and subsist in misery on our streets."

MORE: Should Prop 47 be repealed? CA lawmakers to debate 3 new bills aiming to reform crime law

Mahan and San Francisco Mayor London Breed are among those hoping to see Prop 47 reform on the November 2024 ballot.

The petition calls to reclassify theft with two or more prior convictions as a felony.

Mental health and addiction services will be mandated for felony charges and refusal will lead to up to three years in prison.

Fentanyl dealers will face felonies if the new measure is passed.

Marlene Harden lost her 18-year-old daughter to drugs and she supports the bill change.

"We will never get ahead of this problem until fentanyl dealers face serious consequences," Harden said. "I urge everyone to sign this measure so we can get it on the ballot. The safety and our lives depend on it."

MORE: San Francisco mayor pushes for Prop E to broaden police powers for safety

The goal of Prop 47 was to lower incarceration rates, which our ABC7 News Data team found to be the case.

However, California's homelessness population has gone up. Mahan says 47 prevents judges from mandating mental health or addiction treatment.

Supporters of reform say Prop 47 has also led to a rise in retail theft with no true threat of punishment in place.

Our data found a spike at first, but an overall downward trend in shoplifting after that.

Californians for Safety and Justice executive director Cristine Soto DeBerry says jail time does not deter crime - the threat of being caught does.

"Those are the most effective solutions we can have," DeBerry said. "Currently most property crime, only about 10% result in arrests. We can do better than that. And those are the type of solutions that will actually reduce crime."

DeBerry says the data needs to drive policy decisions in order to create a safer community in the Bay Area and beyond.

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