OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A letter sponsored by several of California's largest crime victim organizations was sent Thursday to the mayors of the state's 13 largest cities, urging them to oppose Proposition 20 – one nationwide initiative that they believe will increase incarceration prices and costs, while reducing investment in services needed to support survivors.
The letter coincided with an online press conference held Thursday morning at which crime victims and various prosecutors from across the state shared why they were against Proposition 20.
Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who attended the press conference, said the proposal would "turn the clock back 20 to 30 years ago".
“We had prisons that were bursting at the seams and unconstitutionally overcrowded that we had to send our prisoners to different states. We have built 14 new prisons over time, but only one public university. We had high crime rates, ”said Rosen. "Do we want to turn back the clock or do we want to go forward, as we have been in this state for the past few years?"
The proposal, slated for election this November, would change several criminal charges to make them more criminal. If so, theft and fraud crimes such as firearm theft, vehicle theft, and improper use of a credit card would be penalized as a misdemeanor or a felony, not just a misdemeanor.
It would also change 51 crimes and sentence amendments as violent, which would exclude those individuals from the probation program, where criminals convicted of nonviolent crimes under the law could be released on parole.
“Accountability is a key element of justice, but not the only one. You can't double the punishment at the expense of the results, ”said Diana Becton, District Attorney for Contra Costa. “By increasing the number of offenses eligible for parole by over 100 percent, Prop 20 only guarantees that a person incarcerated for those offenses will have no incentive to participate in the rehabilitation program. That means far more people will leave our prisons without receiving the rehabilitation benefits that research shows have relapsed. "
People who were victims of sexual assault and domestic violence also attended the press conference. They said that while jail time was a relief for their perpetrator, it was not the main component in healing their trauma.
Sephora Acheson, the executive director of Ruby & # 39; s Place – the first domestic violence home in the US – shared her experience as a child sexual assault survivor.
"There was a temporary sense of security when the person who harmed me was in jail, but it hasn't changed their behavior. Where the healing really came for me … is from services like counseling, shelter, and case management as well the rehabilitation services of those who have done harm, "Acheson said." It is incredibly daunting that survivors' voices are being used to say yes to Prop. 20. That is not the consensus we hear from people whom we serve as much as I do personally. "
One in five people who have survived a crime in the past 10 years received the help they needed to recover from their trauma, according to a 2020 study by the Alliance for Security and Justice.
Proposition 20 opponents fear that the passage of this legislation, coupled with budget cuts related to COVID-19, would significantly reduce the resources available to victims.
William Lansdowne, a retired San Diego and San Jose police chief, said the bill would "decimate some of these programs."
"They are going to put the officers back on patrol and cut off the family justice centers and the homeless outreach centers because they are expensive," Lansdowne said. "We have to be able to keep this money."
The bill would add state and local correction costs for more than ten million dollars a year. It would also add more than a million dollars a year to the cost of state and local dishes.
Former San Francisco district attorney and Los Angeles district attorney candidate George Gascon said following the money was important to understanding who will benefit from the proposal.
“Most of the money comes from law enforcement organizations and prison guards. Organizations that have benefited from the infusion of taxpayers' money into these organizations over the past few decades, ”said Gascon.
The top three donors who contributed to the Protecting California Cooper Ballot Measure Committee, a PAC that supports Prop 20, were The Truth from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association at the American Government Fund, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs PIC, and the Los Angeles Police Protective League Issues PAC. Each of these organizations donated $ 2 million to public campaigns, according to funding documents.
“We build more prisons than universities. We've increased the size of the police force without paying off the investment, ”said Gascon. "In fact … we are now experiencing some of the lowest crime rates … and that was not due to more incarceration."
According to a 2020 study by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the state currently has fewer people incarcerated than ever before in California history, but the bill would result in 10,000 more people being incarcerated in state prisons and prisons each year.
The letter was signed by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, California's largest network of crime survivors. California's Partnership to End Domestic Violence and Ruby & # 39; s Place, which provides shelter and other crisis services to sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, has also signed up.
It was sent to the mayors of Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Long Beach, Oakland, Bakersfield, Anaheim, Riverside, Santa Ana, and Stockton.
So far, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have responded by rejecting Proposition 20.
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