Letter to the editor: No on Prop. 47



The Sheriffs and District Attorneys of Mono and Inyo Counties, and the Police Chiefs of Mammoth Lakes and Bishop have come together to urge voters in both counties to vote “NO” on Proposition 47.  They are joined by the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs Association, and the California District Attorneys Association in opposing Proposition 47.

Proposition 47 is misleadingly entitled “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act.”  Proponents claim that the act simply mcsoalters sentencing of low-level, non-violent crimes such as simple drug possession and petty theft from felonies to misdemeanors with direct financial savings going to other state services including K-12 schools, mental health treatment, and victim services.  There is nothing to show that this will make neighborhoods or schools any safer!

There are no “petty” criminals in our prison system anymore.  No one in California is incarcerated for simple drug possession.  Personal Possession of marijuana is an infraction in California, punishable by a fine of no more than $100.  No one is incarcerated for personal possession of marijuana under California law.

mlpd_-_cars.jpgbpdProposition 47 is not a responsible long-term solution to California’s overcrowded criminal justice system.  There is nothing progressive about disincentivizing rehabilitation, reducing the penalties for the possession of predatory drugs, and downgrading the theft of a firearm valued under $950 to a misdemeanor.  This poorly drafted initiative does all of these things, and opens the door for the early release of up to 10,000 felons from state prison, the majority of whom have committed serious and/or violent crimes.  These are felons who could have prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, animal abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon, and many other serious crimes.

As the top law enforcement officials in Mono and Inyo Counties, we are in agreement that the effects of Proposition 47, if approved by the voters, will have a negative impact on the safety and security of our residents and visitors.  Assembly Bill 109, also known as Prison Realignment, has already resulted in thousands non-serious, non-violent, non-sex felony offenders being sentenced to County jails instead of State prisons where they belong.  These prisoners are filling our jails to near capacity and at some point in the not-to-distant future, sentenced prisoners will have to be released due to overcrowding.  And, we are still in the early stages of the most far-reaching change in our criminal justice system in decades and have not yet seen the full impact of AB 109.  Local communities do not need an additional 10,000 felons on the streets of California.

Proposition 47 will result in the following:

Proposition 47 will eliminate automatic felony prosecution for a criminal who steals a gun.  Under current law, stealing a gun is a felony. inyocourthouse Proposition 47 would redefine grand theft in such a way that theft of a firearm could only be considered a felony if the value of the gun is greater than $950.

The most stolen type of firearm is a handgun, and the most common firearm used in the commission of a crime is a handgun.  The majority of handguns are valued less than $950.  Stolen handguns are often used to commit other crimes.  Proposition 47 protects criminals who steal handguns.

Proposition 47 reduces the penalty for possession of dangerous date-rape drugs such as such as rohypnol, ketamine, and GHB to a simple misdemeanor.  No matter how many times a sexual predator has been charged with possession of date-rape drugs, it will only be a misdemeanor.

Proposition 47 reduces the punishment for theft and forgery, potentially creating a greatermonocourthouse2008 impact on the public and small businesses.  A criminal with a prior residential burglary conviction who forges a victim’s stolen check will only be charged with a misdemeanor if the amount of the check is under $950.

No matter how many times a criminal has been convicted of burglary, robbery, or theft, if the amount stolen in a theft is less than $950, the criminal will only be charged with a misdemeanor.  And fencing that stolen property will only be a misdemeanor.

When a career criminal steals a firearm or a suspected sexual predator possesses date rape drugs, there needs to be an option of prison time.

When it comes to simple drug possession, California is committed to rehabilitation and treatment, not incarceration.  Proposition 47 will reduce the opportunities for persons with drug addictions to seek treatment through the court system.

California already has plenty of laws and programs that allow judges and prosecutors to keep first-time, low-level offenders out of jail if appropriate.  Proposition 47 would strip judges and prosecutors of that discretion.

Contrary to its title of Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, nothing about the real life application of Proposition 47 will make neighborhoods and schools safer.  To the contrary, it would put all Californians at a greater risk of being a victim of crime and remove the ability of law enforcement, prosecutors, and courts to deal with criminal on a case-by-case basis.

Inyo County Sheriff Bill Lutze

Mono County Sheriff Ralph Obenberger

Dan Watson, Chief of Police Mammoth Lakes Police Department

Chris Carter, Chief of Police Bishop Police Department

Tim Kendall Mono County District Attorney

Tom Hardy Inyo County District Attorney


28 Responses to Letter to the editor: No on Prop. 47

  1. Trouble October 8, 2014 at 7:07 am #

    I’m voting for this. Sounds to me like this may turn the clock back to better days in our criminal justice system. Locking people up for non-violent crimes is a waste of time.

    • Wayne Deja October 8, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

      Trouble….My guess is,even if this prop does pass,it’ll STILL be illegal and warrant jail-time AND a big fine if you drink and drive….or drink and drive and decide to stop for some drive-thru fast-food at the Mammoth McDonalds on the way home.

      • Trouble October 9, 2014 at 6:15 am #

        Wayne, your probably correct on the drinking and driving stuff. But that’s not what I’m talking about. This law is more about our present judicial system and addresses possession. DUI is not addressed in this article.

    • Charles O. Jones October 9, 2014 at 9:28 am #

      Turn back the clock? Please refresh my memory of the times when we were softer on drug offenses? Possession of loco-weed used to carry up to a 6 year sentence. Now most offenders just walk away with a ticket. Are you sure you want to go backwards?

      • Trouble October 9, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

        Charles, our government classifying pot as a narcotic has made their war on drugs almost a joke to most people of my generation. And when I grew up we were a hell of a lot more free than the kids of this generation. If you were polite to the police they were usually fair to you . Now they act like programed robots. Take Vietnam out of the past and I do wish we could turn the clock back.

        • Charles O. Jones October 10, 2014 at 7:54 am #

          In almost all of the interactions I have had with LEO’s in my life, I have been treated fairly and with respect. You have apparently had different experiences. Now either I have been particularly lucky, you have been particularly unlucky, or we both were treated based on our individual attitudes. I’m a firm believer that we reap what we sow in our interactions with LEO’s, so my guess is luck had little to do with our contrasting experiences.

  2. C. Wylder October 8, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    Surprise, surprise trouble is voting against something. That’s weird. But if you really think, “simple possession” of a hardcore drug is not a big deal then you obviously have bigger problems to worrie about than what you write here. But keep posting your opinions. I love reading you getting ripped on for everything you say.

    • sugar magnolia October 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      C. The drugs listed are often used for personal use and am not sure if they are considered ‘hard core’, as I don’t think that is a technical term. Certainly meth is a drug that ruins peoples lives, and is probably the ‘worst’ one out there. I have to assume that people who use ketamine and GHB for personal use don’t use them very often and they don’t have a major impact on their lives, while agreeing that there is always risk.

      A simple solution would be two different charges: possession for personal use and possession with intent to use on a ‘victim’. That way a known sexual predator, or someone behaving like a predator, can be charged appropriately, while someone possessing for personal use can be charged with a misdemeanor.

      Typically I think initiatives are not good ways to create laws. It takes a very well written initiative to get me to vote yes, and most are not well written. In particular initiatives dealing with criminal activity are very complicated and it’s unlikely that we’d get a good one written through this process.

      I wish our elected Legislators would do a better job of doing their job and would write thoroughly researched and vetted legislation so the initiative process would not be needed.
      Instead, they write poorly crafted legislation that sounds good to their constituency so that they will be re-elected.

      And people like you that have knee jerk reactions without thinking things through are the ones that vote for them!

    • Ken Warner October 8, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      Trouble said he was voting for 47 not against it.

      Trouble: “I’m voting for this”

    • Trouble October 8, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      C.Wylder, This article incorrectly suggest that people our not going to jail for minor drug offenses. Our jails are over flowing with low level drug offenders and I don’t think people should be put in jail for drugs or alcohol abuse. Our kids our dying from legally prescribed drugs at a hire rate than whatever your definition of a hard core drug is. As to your opinion that I “obviously have bigger problems to deal with “, you might be right, but who are you to say?

  3. A Citizen October 8, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Couldn’t agree with you more…

    YES on Prop 47.

  4. Tinner October 8, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Oh great, now I’m really undecided.
    Voting isn’t easy.

  5. Wayne Deja October 8, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    When I read over this Prop. 47,if it does win with a “yes” vote,maybe the next thing the State should do is put a “stand your ground” law vote up to the people of California,if criminals are only going to get misdemeanors for burglary over and over again…as long as it’s not a “bad burglary”……Ask anyone in LE and they will tell you,a burglary,or attempted burglary can go way side-ways real quick for the person doing the breaking in and trying to steal….if the person that owns the home or renting it happens to be home at the time……SUPRISE !!!

  6. Pedro October 9, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Two District Attorneys say: “No one in California is incarcerated for simple drug possession.” Pretty outrageous rstatement. Care to back that up? Maybe you’re spending too much time in the evidence locker to remember the legal definitions of “incarcerated” and “simple possession”.

  7. Eastern Sierra Local October 9, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    While I don’t know too much about this proposition (I’ve yet to begin my research); my usual response to Law Enforcement supporting/opposing a measure is to do the exact opposite….years ago when the “3 Strikes” law was up for vote Law Enforcement was vehemently supporting it…..as a result of 3 strikes the State’s prison population has skyrocketed and California prisons are now mandated the US Supreme Court to reduce over-crowding.
    Statewide, Law Enforcement Unions are well-funded and extremely powerful in Sacramento and local politics- as a whole, they receive the most generous pensions of public employees and often times don’t require any education beyond a high school diploma. Years of Law Enforcement Unions meddling in State politics has created the largest incarcerated population in the Industrialized world; a “Prison Industry Authority” that manufactures all sorts of items for State and local government to purchase at prices double (sometimes triple) that of the private sector; a group of public employees that retire years earlier than most people with an income and health benefits (for the rest of their lives) that matches their working salaries; and often times they are exempt from cuts to their budgets and salaries under the auspices of maintaining “public safety.”

    Now Local Law Enforcement sends out this piece designed to “scare” the public into voting against it. I question-why? Why are they so concerned with how individuals are prosecuted? That’s not their job-that’s the court’s/juries’ responsibility. What do they care? They only apprehend criminals; judges and juries prosecute them….could it be that their brethren in the Prison system might have a large pension and a job that may be in jeopardy if fewer people are sent their way?

    The real solution to this is that the individual citizen needs to rely upon themselves; the State needs to loosen up/remove regulations and laws that inhibit private citizens from defending themselves, their property, and loved ones.

  8. Roy October 9, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    I have arrested hundreds of people during my career for various drug violations, One thing I learned many many years ago, drug users are thieves, robbers, burglars etc…It was always common knowledge you arrest a Hype ( heroin addict) your taking a burglar or armed robber off the street…

    I have zero faith in any program to try to help these hard core drug users who sole purpose in life is to steal to get high…You allow these people to remain on the streets crime rates will go up…. There is certain segments of our society that need to be locked up as they contribute nothing to society but pain and misery….

    • Trouble October 9, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

      Roy, how many of them were just pot smokers?

      • Roy October 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm #


    • eastern sierra local October 12, 2014 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks Roy for proving my point that drugs should be legal.
      Druggies are only hurting themselves, but if they are, as you say ” thieves, robbers, burglars etc” then they’ll ultimately get arrested for that. There are too many laws on our books that impinge upon personal freedom-Drugs are one of them. Arrest and prosecute people for infringing on other people’s rights to buy those drugs- theft, robbery, burglary, etc.

  9. Wayne Deja October 9, 2014 at 7:55 pm #

    Roy….GREAT post….Those that say drug users are “only hurting themselves”,and drug abuse is a “victim-less crime” probably have never been robbed,burglarized,assaulted or victimized by a drug user or a drug pusher…They don’t work…..they can’t work….depending on their drug of choice,they don’t sleep or eat…or sleep and eat too much….their type ruins a neighborhood..they are a danger driving on the highway,and in most cases,without a drivers license and no insurance….they victimize and drag others down with them…they destroy families,their families and other families..in all cases a drain on society….in many ways.Doubt that,check out the ICSO “Citizens RIMS page,and you’ll see the same ole’ faces over and over again…..followed up where it lists “occupation” usually stating “unemployed”…..and that’s in Inyo County….check out the bigger cities arrests and booking photos and see what you see.

    • Trouble October 11, 2014 at 6:57 am #

      I see the war on drugs is alive a well in your mind Wayne. It’s funny how our society used to call them hippies and they stood for peace and love. I don’t wish drug abuse on anyone, but their are millions of non-violent drug abusers. Betty Ford and Rush Linbugh [sp.] come to mind as admitting their addictions. Betty Ford tried helping them, Rush degrades them to this day.

      • Wayne Deja October 11, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        Trouble…..In case you haven’t noticed….and if your old enough…the weed nowdays is a LOT different than in the 60’s and 70’s “hippie days”…..Today’s weed,for some (not all) can turn them into the same kinda thieves and low-lifes as what meth and other harder drugs can can do ….sneak around….steal….mooch….drive while impaired….feeding off others like a leech…causing family problems and problems with their jobs….causing theft problems in neighborhoods…among other things that effect far more than just the user that chooses to go through life’s journey high as a kite.

        • Trouble October 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

          It’s like magic weed now days Wayne. We didn’t all smoke stems and seeds in 70’s.

  10. earl duran October 10, 2014 at 7:42 am #

    Get a grip Roy this is the future, vote Yes on prop 47.

  11. Ken Warner October 10, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Prop 47 tries to deal with too many different thing and thereby it confuses and fails.

    A $200 gun will kill you just the same as a $951 gun. Burglary, robbery, sexual predation should be treated different than drug possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use.

    Serious drug users and addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill, professional criminals, all need a different way to insulate society from their destructive habits. That’s a whole different conversation but Prop 47 doesn’t deal with that. It just sets them free. Not a good idea.

    Prop 47 needs to be broken apart into several different bills each dealing with a specific area. I would vote no on Prop 47.

  12. Christy October 27, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I have concerns for the California Prison Realignment(AB109), Prison Overcrowding, and Prop 47. Some or most prison officials may think that housing inmates for non-violent crimes is a waste of money for the taxpayers and the State, but most of the people I’ve seen that are going back and forth to County Jail and State Prison are for non-violent crimes, because the punishment is so severe for violent crimes, repeat offenses are not high. Currently under AB109 the max time in the county jail is 10 days for a violation, and after 3 or more violations, an offender can spend 180 days in the county jail, which often they are released in 30 days or less and back on the streets to commit more crimes. There is no fear of being sent back to prison and serving a lengthy term, or life in prison for a new felony. Now on the November 4th 2014 ballot there is Prop 47 hoping to pass in where certain felonies would be reduced to misdemeanors. I believe this a BIG mistake for the safety of California’s. Most people that commit crimes, don’t like going to jail/prison, because of the years that the crime(s) carry, but now California is hoping to reduce that time for certain non-violent crimes just to save money, and or prison space. Has California noticed that most of the people in jail/ prison are there because of specific non-violent crimes which include personal drug possession, shoplifting and receiving stolen property because the time spent is already minimal, or they have the option of getting Prop 36 and or AB109 (which is a joke). So the State or County will either let those persons stay on the streets to commit more crimes and jeopardize the safety of most people, or let them receive the correct punishment and not reduce the current felony convictions to misdemeanor convictions just to save money. Prop 47 is NOT a good idea.

  13. SB October 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    The courts all ready have a solid track record of letting the wrong people out of prison. I will be voting NO on prop 47.

  14. Wayne Deja October 28, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    SB…..More like letting the wrong people out too soon…..and keeping the wrong people in for too long…ADW,burglary,multiple DUI”s…..in and out in a few days…..the lesser crimes….in for a month or two.


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