Story By Marc Steinorth | The San Bernardino Sun
Public safety laws are one of the most important responsibilities our state’s leaders have because a society is judged by how it dispenses justice and protects the safety of its citizens. Crafting criminal justice laws is a rigorous process that must pay close attention to detail. This year, I am prioritizing my focus on fixing some major flaws that have emerged from the passage of Proposition 47 last November.
Although the declared intent of Proposition 47 was to reduce penalties for low-level criminals charged with drug possession or other petty crimes, many unintended consequences have become painfully evident as it has hampered the ability for police to use DNA evidence to solve cold cases while also weakening sexual assault laws.
As a result, I have authored three bipartisan bills to fix these flaws to protect our communities from being needlessly endangered. Prior to Proposition 47, unsolved violent crime cases could be solved years later due to use of DNA evidence obtained from offenders convicted of felonies. In Sacramento, a case that went unsolved for 20 years involving the rape and murder of an 80-year-old woman was finally closed using DNA evidence when the attacker was arrested and convicted on an unrelated drug possession. However, this charge is now a misdemeanor due to Proposition 47, which means DNA evidence could not be collected and the murder would go unsolved.
Due to this, the number of DNA samples being collected has plummeted which has greatly hampered an important tool for solving countless crimes. I am addressing this issue by co-authoring a bill with Democratic Assemblyman Jim Cooper, Assembly Bill 390, to allow police to continue collecting DNA samples from those who commit the crimes.
Another glaring flaw in Proposition 47 is how it greatly reduced penalties for the illegal possession of date rape drugs. Despite the fact these drugs are exclusively used to sexually assault helpless victims, the penalty for possessing them was equally reduced with other recreational drugs under Proposition 47. Our laws must reflect a clear distinction between drugs for personal use and those that are tools of sexual predators. I co-authored AB 46 with Senator Kathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) to undo this weakening of California’s sexual assault laws.
Lastly, the reclassification of many felonies to misdemeanors creates confusion about whether felons who were banned from possessing firearms would be able to obtain firearms as a result of their crimes being reclassified as misdemeanors. It is my belief that California’s best interest is served when criminals who were placed on a prohibited arms person list because they were deemed a danger to the public are not allowed to repossess guns as a result of Proposition 47. I authored AB 1415 to clarify that these criminals remain banned from obtaining firearms.
These are three problems that must be fixed immediately in order to make Proposition 47 feasible without putting our communities at risk. I hope the governor and Legislature will be reasonable and recognize the great risk these flaws are to our communities. I will work diligently to push these commonsense measures to ensure that our laws are just and that crimes are fairly punished.
Read the original post at The San Bernardino Sun