Prop 47 Fueled the Homeless Epidemic to Grow


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The Citrus Heights Chief of Police and President of the California Police Chiefs Association, Ronald A. Lawrence is coming for Prop 47 ahead of Super Tuesday. He represents all 333 municipal police chiefs in California and blames Proposition 47 for the increase in homelessness and drug addiction.

“When you’re in the trenches, you know this is not a housing crisis, but a drug addiction and mental illness crisis. Prop. 47 is a dismal failure and an inhumane way to deal with drug addiction and homelessness. Before it went into effect, we had mechanisms and means to get people the help they needed,” says Lawrence who has spent thirty years in law enforcement.

Prop 47 is known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. It decriminalizes drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. It removes law enforcement's ability to make an arrest in most cases and makes the court's ability to order drug rehabilitation impossible. Another factor of the proposition was to raise the theft threshold to $950 per location, also making it a misdemeanor from a felony.

Lawrence adds, “Arrests are not the problem, addiction is. Cops are now issuing citations to drug users with dangerous drugs. It’s a misnomer cops want to throw people in jail. No one wants drug addicts to stay in prison; we want them to get clean and be productive members of society. But what people fail to see is unless an addict hits rock bottom, they are not going to get the help they need. The criminal justice system and court mandated rehab was the best chance we had to save their lives.”

“Governor Brown had a choice. He could have built more prisons, but instead he reduced the population by releasing or pushing inmates to local county jails, which are not designed to house someone past a year and prevents law enforcement from taking low-level offenders in,” explains Lawrence.

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