Kevin Zempko was sitting near James Rabenberg outside this Starbucks on April 26 when the homeless man became agitated, pulled a small knife from his pocket and started moving toward Zempko, who was able to avert the threat. After police arrested a “disoriented” Rabenberg, he was booked into jail and released three days later.Jahi ChikwendiuWhile a recent Los Angeles Times story on increasing crime in Downtown Los Angeles (which since part of it is blatantly fictional, I will not link to) did mention that Prop 47 was… possibly… part of the problem - it took the investigative efforts of the Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow to uncover exactly why and how Prop 47 is becoming a statewide nightmare - and how that nightmare is guaranteed to get far worse - until it is repealed (though they simply demonstrate this by just reporting the facts as opposed to editorializing about it in the article)
Now the concept of rationalizing certain types of low level crimes and certain types of drug use and possession is a reform almost everyone agrees was long needed. But instead of real reform - Prop 47 first removed the incentives there had been for hard core addicts to get help – a change which has already put both them and society at risk as the writer of the Washington Post story - Eli Saslow - shows in painful detail - in a way no one in Los Angeles has even attempted.
But now more addicts were declining drug court, because spending a few days in jail on a misdemeanor charge was easier than 18 months of intensive rehab. Without the threat of a felony, there was little incentive to get treatment. Drug court programs had closed in Fresno and Riverside. Enrollments had dipped by more than a quarter in many places across the state. Rabenberg had been offered drug court three times and always declined, choosing instead to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
Yes, in California - if you steal less than $950 - even if you do it 10 times a day, 365 days a year (or 366 days during leap years) - as long as they are each separate thefts - you can NEVER be arrested for any of those thefts since they are no longer crimes. They are now JUST 'ticketable' misdemeanors no more serious than being cited for littering or jay waking or spitting.
So professional shoplifting rings all over the country – and from all over the world – will be able to come here – and steal as much as they want every day – without any fear of ever being arrested for committing a crime. As long as each member of the ring only steals $950 per store – they will be able to hit store after store – and steal $10,000 every day – and never once be in danger of being convicted of committing an actual crime.
And there are professional who can do that kind of business. And even if they take it easy - and only steal enough to net… $2,000 a day. Well – that still comes to $700,000 a year – tax free – since there will never be any records for the IRS to find.
And so many felonies that have been made ticketable events – it’s hard to even - keep up with them. Here’s one in the Washington Post article I had not known about. Underlining is mine.
Far more surprising, though – is how this proposition made a very special effort to ‘legalize’ the stealing of guns in the state of California.
But the police never called. The arrest had been for possession of drugs and brandishing a deadly weapon — now misdemeanors under Prop 47. Rabenberg was booked into jail and released three days later.
In fact – you can now steal as many guns as you want – even 500 or a 1,000 guns a year - as long as you don’t steal more $950 worth of guns per robbery. There’s a good chance this law will retroactively remove all your prior felonies – making it possible for you to legally buy guns again. But you might ask - if you're a known gang member - will you still be able to steal guns like everyone else? Well, why the hell not was the response of the writers of the proposition.
There was also the known gang member near Palm Springs who had been caught with a stolen gun valued at $625 and then reacted incredulously when the arresting officer explained that he would not be taken to jail but instead written a citation. “But I had a gun. What is wrong with this country?” the offender said, according to the police report.
And here’s the scary part – this is not an accidental consequence. The people who wrote and supported this had to specifically remove a section of the criminal code that made it a crime to steal any gun. Yes, this bill’s supporters - went out of their way - to make it easier for criminals and gang members to steal and own guns and many of these organizations are also demanding guns be taken away from law-abiding citizens.
Finally, if you care about Los Angeles or California - you absolutely have to read the entire story - right from the start of the story:
A ‘virtual get-out-of-jail-free card’
A new California law to reduce prison crowding keeps one addict out of jail, but not out of trouble
They gathered outside the courthouse in November for a celebration on Election Day, dozens of people wearing fake handcuffs and carrying handwritten signs. “End mass incarceration!” read one. “Justice not jail,” read another. California voters had just approved a historic measure that would reduce punishments for more than 1 million nonviolent offenders, most of whom had been arrested on drug charges. “No more drug war,” people chanted that night, as the vote became official.The new law, called Proposition 47, was intended to reduce crowding in the state’s overwhelmed prisons, save money and treat low-level criminals with more compassion, and inside the courthouse that day was one of its first tests: James Lewis Rabenberg, 36, a homeless resident of San Diego. He had been found in possession of a small amount of methamphetamine at a local park, a crime that had been considered a felony on the morning of his Nov. 4 sentencing hearing but by nightfall would be reclassified to a misdemeanor. Instead of facing more than a year in jail or in a residential drug treatment program, Rabenberg delayed his sentencing so he would be looking at the prospect of a small fine, some probation and his immediate release.
“The ideal example of a Prop 47 case,” a public defender had written in a motion to delay sentencing, because Rabenberg had no history of violence and had never been convicted of selling drugs. He had moved to California a decade earlier from Illinois, lost his job in construction, become addicted to meth, lost his house and then been caught several times with drugs. He was sick and sometimes trying to get better, and a few months earlier he had posted a message on his Facebook page. “Saving money, working, going to meetings, clean over 100 days and feeling good,” he had written. “Time for James to do James.
And then things start to go down hill real fast,,,,