California State Sheriffs’ Assn. Endorses Proposition 20

The California State Sheriffs’ Assn. has endorsed a statewide ballot measure that would roll back some aspects of criminal justice reform measures passed in recent years.

Proposition 20 would increase penalties for some crimes and allow prosecutors to charge serial thefts as felonies rather than mere misdemeanors. It would enable expanded collection of DNA from people who commit low-level crimes. It would also add dozens of crimes to a list of “violent” offenses that preclude early parole. These include felony assault with a deadly weapon, rape of an unconscious person, and human trafficking of a minor.

“We all know they are violent crimes,” said Kings County Sheriff and Sheriff’s Association President David Robinson (Los Angeles Times).

Supporters of Proposition 20 say it closes significant loopholes in three initiatives, AB 109 (2011), Proposition 47 (2014), and Proposition 57 (2016). They say some aspects of these laws — which were intended to reduce California’s crowded prison population — placed strain on county jails, led to increased property theft in California cities, and hampered DNA collection efforts.

Opponents of Proposition 20 warn the ballot measure would be a step backwards for criminal justice reform.

Read more about the ballot measure at CalMatters.