Faith Votes Homelessness

Our criminal justice system is rooted in systemic racism, adversely impacts and targets People of Color, and has not prioritized rehabilitation and restorative justice.

What does the Ballot Measure propose?

The Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act is intended to gut key elements of Proposition 47 – a critical criminal justice reform measure we worked hard to pass in 2014, which addresses systemic racism in the criminal justice system. And, as we often see with meaningful reform, the backlash to this measure has been overwhelming.

NO on the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act: November 2024 Ballot – California

This ballot measure would charge repeat offenders who steal for the third time with a felony, regardless of the value of the merchandise, increase penalties for organized retail theft rings, and stiffen penalties for selling or possessing “hard drugs.” For example, it would make possession of fentanyl into a felony. 

Why do we oppose it?

This ballot measure seeks to stoke fear. While all evidence shows that rates of crime and shoplifting are down in California, this ballot measure responds to a general perception that people and property are not safe, demonizing poor people and seeking to punish low level offenders. 

Contrary to its name, the measure does not address homelessness at all – offering no increase to homeless services, housing, or shelter. In fact, experts across the state see this ballot measure as a potential cause of homelessness due to loss of income through a felony conviction. As this study from UC San Francisco shows, loss of income is the leading cause of homelessness in California. 

The Independent Legislative Analyst’s office said that because of the way it’s written, the ballot measure may actually reduce funding for the services it claims to want to bolster. 

Prop 47 actually saved the state money in criminal justice costs by diverting people away from prison and jail, and earmarking those savings for projects that provide mental health and substance use treatment (nearly $104 million was awarded between 2017 and 2020, and another $96 million between 2019 and 2023).

In the wake of a budget deficit where Governor Newsom has already proposed cutting funds from behavioral health programs, passing this ballot measure will have devastating ramifications statewide. 

According to a piece in the LA Times written by Meghan Morris, an associate professor of epidemiology at UC San Francisco:

From 2017 through 2023, the measure provided more than 53,000 defendants with services such as mental health and drug treatment as well as housing, job training, diversion and legal support. These powerful reinvestments spanned 16 counties, including L.A., San Francisco, Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara. Recidivism plummeted for people who completed a Proposition 47 reentry program (15% compared with other statewide rates typically between 35% and 45%).”

Our criminal justice system is rooted in systemic racism, adversely impacts and targets People of Color, and has not prioritized rehabilitation and restorative justice. Proposition 47 signaled a real commitment to changing that reality. We cannot go back.

We know that measures that emphasize incarceration don’t work. Californians deserve real solutions to public safety, such as policy that protects tenants so they don’t become unhoused, programs that guarantee every Californian the right to live in dignity and abundance, and the production of more affordable housing, to ensure every Californian has a sacred place to call home. 

Our Faith Votes for Community.

Who supports this bill?

This bill is backed by a coalition supported by Walmart, Target and law enforcement groups called “Californians for Safer Communities.”

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