California’s Prop 47 Has Officially Backfired

The Golden Fleece Award from Independent Institute is awarded to the worst boondoggles by the government for the year. Proposition 47 was a bill to lower penalties for crime and it has paid off in a big way.

Since car theft and other property crimes are no longer felonies, criminals are taking advantage of the law and crime is skyrocketing in the state of California. For decades, crime in California had been dropping pretty much every year but thanks to Prop 47 since 2014, crime is back up where it was decades before. Steal a car and if it’s your first offense you will likely walk and if it isn’t your first, the penalty is still very low.

The Independent Institute explains why Prop 47 was selected for the award:

Although some of the criminal justice reforms brought about by Prop 47 were positive, the law sparked a surge in automobile break-ins and shopliftings throughout the state. By reducing penalties associated with these and other property crimes—and by making it more difficult to issue felony sentences—Prop 47 de-prioritizes justice for California residents and businesses, who now are increasingly victims of vandals and thieves operating with near impunity.

This Golden Fleece report begins by examining the context and consequences of Prop 47, including the broader issue of the government’s failure to protect private-property rights. It then makes several recommendations. Fixing the problem, it argues, requires criminal penalties and law-enforcement practices that are more consistent with the spirit of criminal restitution as expressed in California’s Victims’ Bill of Rights Act, while also discouraging repeat offenses and organized crime rings.

The Golden Fleece report further argues that Californian residents and businesses should more aggressively use modern technologies that deter crime through greater vigilance, such as social media and high-definition surveillance cameras, in order to better fill the voids left when the government fails to protect private-property rights. Finally, more pressure by residents would spur law enforcement to prioritize deterring and solving property crimes. Government budgets should reflect this priority.

Decriminalizing crime doesn’t seem to work. Who could have guessed that? Red states maybe.