District Attorney lashes back against Governor: “Either he’s ignorant… or he’s a liar”

Marie Edinger has this report with the above title for KMPH in Fresno:

The law enforcement community is fired up after comments Governor Gavin Newsom made about crime in California Wednesday.

The Governor talked about Proposition 47. That law changed certain felonies to misdemeanors. From the police perspective, it runs in tandem with Proposition 57, which reduced prison sentences, and AB-109, which shifted people from state prison to local jails.

Governor Newsom says those laws reduced crime, particularly property crimes. Then, he shifted blame to law enforcement officers and district attorneys, saying, “It seems to me that there’s deterrence when people are arrested for breaking the law and are prosecuted. We need arrests and we need prosecution. We need people held to account. No one condones that behavior – quite the contrary.”

“It’s not deterring it, it’s not preventing it. It’s not doing anything to stop this, which is why it just keeps getting worse and we keep seeing more bold behaviors, we keep seeing more criminals who are empowered,” said Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

Smittcamp was outraged by the comments, feeling the Governor was shifting blame to her and her colleagues.

“He should be ashamed of himself,” said Smittcamp. “This is the environment that he created. And he’s either ignorant of the statistics, or he’s a liar.”

5 Responses

  1. Brett Miler says:

    Hi Kent –
    I at least somewhat agree with Governor Newsom – Proposition 47 increased the threshold to be charged with a felony to $950 dollars which is still a smaller threshold than other conservative states such as Arizona or Alaska – the point is that $950 dollars is not in and of itself a outrageously high threshold compared to the rest of the country. The fact is that Proposition 47 does not prohibit charging someone with a theft of a smaller dollar item as a robbery if the threat or use of force is involved – so it seems to me that Proposition 47 isn’t to blame for the smash and grab robberies that seem to be plaguing California. If Prop 47 caused increased crime due to the overcrowding of county jails (AB 109), that still would not be evidence that the theft threshold is outrageously high compared to the rest of America. The increase in crime nationwide is due to several factors and we simply cannot make every theft a felony – it would seriously overcrowd the jails and the court system which may inevitably lead to another Plata situation.
    Thank you for your time,
    Brett Miler

    • A “smash and grab” is not inherently a robbery. Use of force against a display case does not make it a robbery. The force has to be used against a person, not an inanimate object.

      No one is arguing that we should make every theft a felony. The dollar threshold was not the only change made by Proposition 47. It also eliminated the recividist theft provision. While the earlier provision might have needed some adjustment, repealing it with no replacement was a very bad move.

      The way to avoid another Plata situation is to build sufficient prison space for the amount of crime we have, for the time being.

      Long term, the way to reduce both crime and prison population is to build a culture of respect for law and for others such that fewer people commit crimes. In the end, culture trumps everything. Proportionate consequences for committing crimes, so that crime does not pay, is one essential element in building such a culture.

      • Brett Miler says:

        Hi Kent – I understand what you are saying but I have somewhat of an anti-authoritarian bent. I just think that for lower level offenders, the less government intervention there is, the better chance the offender may have of escaping the very costly cycle of crime and prison. I know the broken windows theory would suggest early intervention in crime but it can also produce harmful consequences that can cause people to become swept up in crime later on – for some people, the less intervention (government sanctions) the better. Thanks for reading, Brett Miler

        • Bob T says:

          This mindset is the root cause of the problems California faces. Criminals do not get caught each time they commit crimes, they commit many crimes before they get caught. A small number of criminals spoil society for everyone. I observed that first-hand when working in South Central LA. It is better for all that the few be punished for their crimes.

          When California had three strikes crime was much lower. Prop 47 was sold to low-information voters by calling it “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”, when it was the exact opposite.

          After Prop 47, the wonderful, safe community I lived in for decades was quickly afflicted with criminality. It was the last straw for me. I left, and not a moment too soon, according to those who stayed behind.

          If you live behind guarded gates, and have the resources to avoid the everyday challenges of commuting to a job through sketchy neighborhoods where you might get mugged or carjacked, or shopping in stores where you might get roughed up by thieves, or sleeping in the bath tub to prevent stray bullets from hitting you, then you don’t understand how toxic an “anti-authoritarian” mindset is. Civil societies exist because a police force deters and removes those who would do evil.

        • Did you mean to imply that a policy position that society should impose proportionate punishment upon people who choose to commit acts that nearly every society regards as criminal (e.g., theft) is in any way “authoritarian”?

          If you believe that your position is in any way less “authoritarian” than the position of those who disagree with you, you are very much mistaken. Perhaps you do not know what that word means?