Initiative to amend Prop 47 is eligible for November ballot

SACRAMENTO – An initiative to amend Proposition 47 by reinstating penalties for serial thieves and treatment requirements for drug addicts has qualified for the November ballot, the California Secretary of State's office announced Tuesday afternoon.

The office is predicted to certify the initiative for the overall election later this month on November 5.

Supporters of the measure include small business owners, social justice activists and families of drug victims.

They argue that while Proposition 47 has achieved notable gains in bringing justice to the state's criminal justice system, it has also led to unintended consequences, including repeated and infrequently more organized shoplifting, downtown store closures, and difficulties in persuading people to hunt drug or mental health treatment.

Passed in 2014, the law reclassified most drug possession and property crimes valued at $950 or less as misdemeanors and allowed for resentencing of individuals convicted of great crimes for those offenses. The goal was to alleviate overcrowded prisons and address social justice issues.

Prop. 47 was supported by former San Jose and San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne, former San Francisco District Attorney and current Los Angeles District Attorney Jeff Rosen, Santa Clara County District Attorney, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and then-Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, now the state's governor.

An try and toughen a number of the penalties mitigated by the law – Proposition 20 in 2020 – failed.

Supporters of the brand new initiative say it might amend but not repeal Prop 47. The measure would make a 3rd conviction for shoplifting a felony, whatever the amount stolen. In addition, it might impose penalties for trafficking fentanyl – an inexpensive and deadly synthetic opioid – and supply incentives for convicted addicts to hunt treatment.

Writer John Woolfolk contributed to this report.

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