The senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have sparked a national reckoning on the criminal justice system. There is a growing consensus that the law enforcement apparatus in the United States is plagued with systemic racism and needs reform. But when voters in California, the country’s most populous state, go to the polls in November, they will consider a ballot initiative that rolls back prior reforms to make the legal system more fair and equitable. The initiative, known as Proposition 20, is being financed in part by corporations that, in recent days, have publicly declared their commitment to racial justice.
Proposition 20, which supporters call the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act,” would allow certain non-violent thefts, which are currently misdemeanors, to be charged as felonies — no matter how little was stolen. It would also create two new crimes, “serial theft” and “organized retail theft,” which could also be charged as felonies, and punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years. The Proposition would also prevent some inmates from earning early parole by participating in rehabilitative programs. All these measures would swell the population at California’s prisons and jails, which are already crowded beyond their intended capacity.
Paid for by No on Prop. 20, Californians Against the Prison Spending Scam
Committee Major funding from
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Open Society Policy Center