Prosecute Shoplifters Under Existing Laws, Says Governor | News from USA®
By DON THOMPSON, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Gavin Newsom said unequivocally on Wednesday that he believed shoplifters should be prosecuted under existing California laws, as he called on local officials who he said , were reluctant to do so.
He was responding to a recent spate of large-scale thefts in California and across the country, in which groups of individuals were robbing stores in droves or smashing and grabbing storefronts. Sole traders have also been a growing problem for retailers who say thieves face little consequence.
Newsom, a Democrat who has bragged about his criminal justice reform efforts, has pledged that the proposed budget he will send to state lawmakers next month “will dramatically increase our efforts to prosecute these retail networks.” .
Attorney General Rob Bonta, a person named by Newsom who has touted his own progressive reforms, separately made similar harsh comments on Wednesday.
Both have championed Proposition 47, a voting measure approved by California voters in 2014 that reduced some theft and drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.
Property crimes have declined significantly since then despite recent high-profile cases, Newsom said. State crime statistics show that property crimes fell 7.7% last year, due to an almost 15% drop in thefts and a 4% drop in thefts. burglaries.
But Newsom said the recent spate of mass robberies and the lack of prosecution were “unacceptable.”
âIf people break in, people steal your property, they need to be arrested. The police must stop them. Prosecutors must prosecute them. Judges must hold people accountable for breaking the law, âNewsom said. “These are not victimless crimes, and I have no empathy for these criminal elements.”
Even thefts under $ 950 should be prosecuted as misdemeanors or “stacked” in felony complaints if there are repeat infractions, he said, saying some officials “choose” not to. do it.
âI want to see local efforts. I want to see them intensify, âsaid Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco. âLook at the laws. You have the capacity. Stack the repeat offenders and proceed to prosecution.
San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin last week announced felony charges against nine people for a series of thefts, and Bay Area prosecutors announced a joint effort to tackle organized theft in retail.
Boudin spokesperson Rachel Marshall agreed with Newsom’s comments on Proposition 47 and the need for âevery player in the legal system and every agency in the cityâ to step up.
âOur office pursues cases in which the police make arrests; this year, we filed complaints in 80% of the burglaries that were reported to us, âshe said. She said the office “has been a leader through the Gov. Newsom-funded Retail Theft Task Force in dismantling the networks behind organized retail theft.”
Los Angeles District Attorney George GascÃ³n, who also appeared on a reform platform, did not respond to requests for comment.
Bonta, the state’s top law enforcement official, also called for cracking down on organized thefts from retail businesses like those before the Thanksgiving holiday.
âThese are crimes. There are more than enough tools in the California criminal justice toolbox to actually charge them and hold people accountable, âBonta said at a Sacramento Press Club forum.
âThese fit perfectly with the organized retail crime laws in the state of California, where people act in concert with one or more people to trade, return or sell what they steal. “
Newsom also reiterated its criticism of San Diego-based U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, a day after a panel of 11 members of the U.S. 9th Court of Appeals quashed Benitez and upheld the California ban on ammunition stores containing more than 10 bullets.
He called Benitez a “radical judge … who apparently thinks weapons of war are appropriate” – criticism he first voiced in June when the judge overturned the state’s ban on assault weapons .
Newsom noted that a 15-year-old from Michigan allegedly used a handgun with three magazines each containing 15 bullets to kill four of his classmates and injure seven more on Friday.
âThere is no country on planet Earth that is experiencing what we are going through,â Newsom said. âWhat about the freedom fromâ¦ the fear and anxiety of being able to send your child to a school like this without worrying about the weapons of war promoted by judges and promoted by politicians? “
Associated Press writer Adam Beam contributed to this report.
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