No Props to Prop 47

Sarah Markiewicz, Staff Writer

If other students are considering how Proposition 47 will affect their lives, I hope that they are not thinking about how it will benefit them once they’ve shoplifted something under a certain price. There are still plenty of other elements of Prop. 47 that would apply to the more rational side of our generation.

For those who have not been keeping up with the recent elections, this proposition gives more lenient sentences to crimes that might be called less serious than the average felony, which constitutes things like assault and murder. Some of the labeled misdemeanors do make sense, such as an improper writing of a check, which does not seem to be as worthy of an orange jumpsuit as an act of terrorism.
Though I might be seriously underestimating the severity of a miswritten check, some serious crimes that can now be called misdemeanors cannot be overlooked for their dangerous consequences.

First of all, the psychological impact of lowering fiscal penalties and imprisonment times will also lower the moral standards of the nation’s youth.

To be more specific, something quite alarming about Prop. 47 is that it establishes the ownership of date rape drugs and the possible robbery of weapons to be misdemeanors rather than felonies, as long as the subject has not committed any past felonies or is not a registered sex offender. No matter if they had been felons or not, the more lenient punishment will not dissuade anyone from committing serious crimes in the future. While there is the chance that they would be discouraged by these punishments, the rest of the nation probably will not sleep well with this lack of harsh penalizing.

On the flip side, those in favor of Prop. 47 may feel assured by its promise of emancipating criminals that do not necessarily need to spend more time in jail then they deserve, due to the issue of overcrowding in prison.

However, this does not entail that the criminals will be leaving the prison system altogether, since they will still need to carry out their sentences as perpetrators of minor crimes. In the aftermath of the midterm elections, I do not think that jails will witness much alleviation to the overcrowding issue, and that county jails will be filled with surplus prisoners. Young people who might end up in a county jail for a minor crime might enter the jail along with the convicts that had formerly been in long-term prisons.

One of the supporting side’s strongest arguments is the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” which would utilize money saved by the proposition to fund services for victims or for those who might become criminals, through counseling and services for victims. Still, we have seen that there are other aspects of the proposition that contradict this, such as lowered standards on drug and weapon possession, so-called minor crimes, and the apparent goal of focusing more attention on top notch criminals. Besides, I also doubt the effects of counseling on potential convicts as opposed to the threat of retribution.

While arguing against the drawbacks of Proposition 47 will not accomplish much now that it has passed, we must realize that it is our generation in particular that may feel the proposition’s backlash most strongly. It can only be hoped that the law’s efforts to dissuade criminal activity will not be misunderstood as being only mercy.