Newsom Defends Prop. 47, Says California Tougher Than Texas on Retail Theft Crimes

Newsom Defends Prop. 47, Says California Tougher Than Texas on Retail Theft Crimes

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks in Los Angeles on Jan. 3, 2024. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore


Updated: 1/16/2024


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—A voter initiative passed in 2014 to reduce prison populations is not to blame for retail theft crimes in the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters during his budget proposal press conference Jan. 10.
“Everybody talks about Prop. 47, and they say we’ve got to change,” Mr. Newsom said. “I hear it 24/7 surround sound on all these news channels.”
Showing a slide seemingly prepared in case he was questioned on the issue, the governor clicked through a list of states with higher felony thresholds than California’s $950, with Texas topping the list at $2,500.
“It sounds like California is a little tougher than Texas,” Mr. Newsom said.

Comparing California and Texas

While the dollar amounts vary widely for felony charges between the two states, penalties for misdemeanor offenses are vastly different.
Texas utilizes a multi-tiered misdemeanor charging system with county jail time for offenders. Those convicted of felony theft can be sent to the state jail or prison depending on the length of sentence.
While most thefts under $950 are citations with no arrest or jail time in California, theft between $100 and $750 in Texas is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine.
Thefts between $750 and $2,500 in the Lone Star State are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
Claiming the Golden State is the 10th strictest in the nation, the governor suggested those looking to change Prop. 47 by lowering the dollar amount are off target.
“It seems like we’ve just created this narrative,” Mr. Newsom said. “That’s not the fundamental issue ... it’s the other issues that are not Prop. 47 related.”
Confusion around existing laws pertaining to jurisdiction—where some law enforcement officials are less likely to make arrests unless they witness the crime—is part of the problem, according to the governor.
One priority this year is working with lawmakers to clarify the matter, he said.

Organized Theft, Repeat Offenders Should Be Targeted: Newsom

The governor additionally issued a call-to-action Jan. 9 requesting legislators address retail theft by increasing penalties for “professional thieves” and aggregating thefts to reach felony thresholds.
The proposed legislative framework includes key provisions requested by retailers and law enforcement experts at retail theft hearings in December, including increasing enforcement and consequences for offenders.
Complicating enforcement is a change in the nature of retail theft from occasional occurrence by individuals to sophisticated operations, the governor told reporters.
“It’s become deeply organized, and that’s what we need to go after,” Mr. Newsom said. “That’s where we need to capture new laws and a new framework.”
While defending the proposition, he invited evidence-based critiques and touted his record as proof that he’s willing to change the law.
“I’m open to argument, interested in evidence,” Mr. Newsom said.
Recognizing that the proposition could be improved, the governor said he is looking for adaptations that can bring about change without having to wait for an election.
“I think it’s important to level … with people, and again, that’s not to say that everything about Prop. 47 is hunky dory or perfect,” Mr. Newsom said. “We want to help fix some of the ambiguities there, but we can do it without reforming it and taking it back to the voters.”
Travis Gillmore

Travis Gillmore


Travis Gillmore is an avid reader and journalism connoisseur based in California covering finance, politics, the State Capitol, and breaking news for The Epoch Times.

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